THE MARSH AND THE FLOOD
There was always regular connection between the Yew Cottage and the Marsh,
yet the two households remained separate,
After Anna's marriage,
the Marsh became the home of the two boys,
Tom and Fred.
Tom was a rather short,
with crisp black hair and long black eyelashes and soft,
He had a quick intelligence.
From the High School he went to London to study.
He had an instinct for attracting people of character and energy.
He gave place entirely to the other person,
and at the same time kept himself independent.
He scarcely existed except through other people.
When he was alone he was unresolved.
When he was with another man,
he seemed to add himself to the other,
make the other bigger than life size.
So that a few people loved him and attained a sort of fulfilment in him.
He carefully chose these few.
He had a subtle,
a mind that was like a scale or balance.
There was something of a woman in all this.
In London he had been the favourite pupil of an engineer,
a clever man,
who became well-known at the time when Tom Brangwen had just finished his studies.
Through this master the youth kept acquaintance with various individual,
He never asserted himself.
He seemed to be there to estimate and establish the rest.
He was like a presence that makes us aware of our own being.
So that he was while still young connected with some of the most energetic scientific and mathematical people in London.
They took him as an equal.
Quiet and perceptive and impersonal as he was,
he kept his place and learned how to value others in just degree.
He was there like a judgment.
he was very good-looking,
of medium stature,
but beautifully proportioned,
with fine colouring,
always perfectly healthy.
His father allowed him a liberal pocket-money,
besides which he had a sort of post as assistant to his chief.
Then from time to time the young man appeared at the Marsh,
having by nature a subtle,
And he set the change in the farm.
the younger brother,
was a Brangwen,
He was his father's very son,
the two men,
father and son,
were supremely at ease with one another.
Fred was succeeding to the farm.
Between the elder brother and the younger existed an almost passionate love.
Tom watched over Fred with a woman's poignant attention and self-less care.
Fred looked up to Tom as to something miraculous,
that which he himself would aspire to be,
were he great also.
So that after Anna's departure,
the Marsh began to take on a new tone.
The boys were gentlemen;
Tom had a rare nature and had risen high.
Fred was sensitive and fond of reading,
he pondered Ruskin and then the Agnostic writings.
Like all the Brangwens,
he was very much a thing to himself,
though fond of people,
and indulgent to them,
having an exaggerated respect for them.
There was a rather uneasy friendship between him and one of the young Hardys at the Hall.
The two households were different,
yet the young men met on shy terms of equality.
It was young Tom Brangwen,
with his dark lashes and beautiful colouring,
his strange repose and his informed air,
added to his position in London,
who seemed to emphasize the superior foreign element in the Marsh.
When he appeared,
as if soft and affable,
and yet quite removed from everybody,
he created an uneasiness in people,
he was reserved in the minds of the Cossethay and Ilkeston acquaintances to a different,
He and his mother had a kind of affinity.
The affection between them was of a mute,
His father was always uneasy and slightly deferential to his eldest son.
Tom also formed the link that kept the Marsh in real connection with the Skrebenskys,
now quite important people in their own district.
So a change in tone came over the Marsh.
Tom Brangwen the father,
as he grew older,
seemed to mature into a gentleman-farmer.
His figure lent itself: burly and handsome.
His face remained fresh and his blue eyes as full of light,
his thick hair and beard had turned gradually to a silky whiteness.
It was his custom to laugh a great deal,
in his acquiescent,
Things had puzzled him very much,
so he had taken the line of easy,
He was not responsible for the frame of things.
Yet he was afraid of the unknown in life.
He was fairly well-off.
His wife was there with him,
a different being from himself,
yet somewhere vitally connected with him: --who was he to understand where and how?
His two sons were gentlemen.
They were men distinct from himself,
they had separate beings of their own,
yet they were connected with himself.
It was all adventurous and puzzling.
Yet one remained vital within one's own existence,
whatever the off-shoots.
handsome and puzzled,
he laughed and stuck to himself as the only thing he could stick to.
His youngness and the wonder remained almost the same in him.
He became indolent,
he developed a luxuriant ease.
Fred did most of the farm-work,
the father saw to the more important transactions.
He drove a good mare,
and sometimes he rode his cob.
He drank in the hotels and the inns with better-class farmers and proprietors,
he had well-to-do acquaintances among men.
But one class suited him no better than another.
had no acquaintances.
Her hair was threaded now with grey,
her face grew older in form without changing in expression.
She seemed the same as when she had come to the Marsh twenty-five years ago,
save that her health was more fragile.
She seemed always to haunt the Marsh rather than to live there.
She was never part of the life.
Something she represented was alien there,
she remained a stranger within the gates,
in some ways fixed and impervious,
in some ways curiously refining.
She caused the separateness and individuality of all the Marsh inmates,
the friability of the household.
When young Tom Brangwen was twenty-three years old there was some breach between him and his chief which was never explained,
and he went away to Italy,
then to America.
He came home for a while,
then went to Germany;
always the same good-looking,
attractive young man,
in perfect health,
yet somehow outside of everything.
In his dark eyes was a deep misery which he wore with the same ease and pleasantness as he wore his close-sitting clothes.
To Ursula he was a romantic,
He had a grace of bringing beautiful presents: a box of expensive sweets,
such as Cossethay had never seen;
or he gave her a hair-brush and a long slim mirror of mother-of-pearl,
all pale and glimmering and exquisite;
or he sent her a little necklace of rough stones,
amethyst and opal and brilliants and garnet.
He spoke other languages easily and fluently,
his nature was curiously gracious and insinuating.
With all that,
he was undefinably an outsider.
He belonged to nowhere,
to no society.
Anna Brangwen had left her intimacy with her father undeveloped since the time of her marriage.
At her marriage it had been abandoned.
He and she had drawn a reserve between them.
Anna went more to her mother.
Then suddenly the father died.
It happened one springtime when Ursula was about eight years old,
drove off on a Saturday morning to the market in Nottingham,
saying he might not be back till late,
as there was a special show and then a meeting he had to attend.
His family understood that he would enjoy himself.
The season had been rainy and dreary.
In the evening it was pouring with rain.
did not go out,
as was his wont.
He smoked and read and fidgeted,
hearing always the trickling of water outside.
black night seemed to cut him off and make him unsettled,
aware of himself,
aware that he wanted something else,
aware that he was scarcely living.
There seemed to him to be no root to his life,
no place for him to get satisfied in.
He dreamed of going abroad.
But his instinct knew that change of place would not solve his problem.
He wanted change,
vital change of living.
And he did not know how to get it.
an old woman now,
came in saying that the labourers who had been suppering up said the yard and everywhere was just a slew of water.
He heard in indifference.
But he hated a desolate,
raw wetness in the world.
He would leave the Marsh.
His mother was in bed.
At last he shut his book,
his mind was blank,
he walked upstairs intoxicated with depression and anger,
intoxicated with depression and anger,
locked himself into sleep.
Tilly set slippers before the kitchen fire,
and she also went to bed,
leaving the door unlocked.
Then the farm was in darkness,
in the rain.
At eleven o'clock it was still raining.
Tom Brangwen stood in the yard of the "Angel",
and buttoned his coat.
he said cheerfully,
"it's rained on me before.
put her in --Tha'rt a rare old cock,
wi' a belly on thee as does credit to thy drink,
if not to thy corn.
Co' up lass,
let's get off ter th' old homestead.
what a wetness in the night!
There'll be no volcanoes after this.
my beautiful young slender feller,
which of us is Noah?
It seems as though the water-works is bursted.
Ducks and ayquatic fowl
'll be king o' the castle at this rate --dove an' olive branch an' all.
Stand up then,
we're not stoppin' here all night,
even if you thought we was.
I'm dashed if the jumping rain wouldn't make anybody think they was drunk.
Jack --does rain-water wash the sense in,
or does it wash it out?"
And he laughed to himself at the joke.
He was always ashamed when he had to drive after he had been drinking,
always apologetic to the horse.
His apologetic frame made him facetious.
He was aware of his inability to walk quite straight.
Nevertheless his will kept stiff and attentive,
in all his fuddleness.
He mounted and bowled off through the gates of the innyard.
The mare went well,
he sat fixed,
the rain beating on his face.
His heavy body rode motionless in a kind of sleep,
one centre of attention was kept fitfully burning,
the rest was dark.
He concentrated his last attention on the fact of driving along the road he knew so well.
He knew it so well,
he watched for it attentively,
with an effort of will.
He talked aloud to himself,
sententious in his anxiety,
as if he were perfectly sober,
whilst the mare bowled along and the rain beat on him.
He watched the rain before the gig-lamps,
the faint gleaming of the shadowy horse's body,
the passing of the dark hedges.
"It's not a fit night to turn a dog out,"
he said to himself,
"It's high time as it did a bit of clearing up,
I'll be damned if it isn't.
It was a lot of use putting those ten loads of cinders on th' road.
They'll be washed to kingdom-come if it doesn't alter.
it's our Fred's look-out,
if they are.
He's top-sawyer as far as those things go.
I don't see why I should concern myself.
They can wash to kingdom-come and back again for what I care.
I suppose they would be washed back again some day.
That's how things are.
Th' rain tumbles down just to mount up in clouds again.
So they say.
There's no more water on the earth than there was in the year naught.
That's the story,
if you understand it.
There's no more to-day than there was a thousand years ago --nor no less either.
You can't wear water out.
my boy: it'll give you the go-by.
Try to wear it out,
and it takes its hook into vapour,
it has its fingers at its nose to you.
It turns into cloud and falleth as rain on the just and unjust.
I wonder if I'm the just or the unjust."
He started awake as the trap lurched deep into a rut.
And he wakened to the point in his journey.
He had travelled some distance since he was last conscious.
But at length he reached the gate,
and stumbled heavily down,
gripping fast to the trap.
He descended into several inches of water.
he said angrily.
"Be damned to the miserable slop."
And he led the horse washing through the gate.
He was quite drunk now,
Everywhere there was water underfoot.
The raised causeway of the house and the farm-stead was dry,
But there was a curious roar in the night which seemed to be made in the darkness of his own intoxication.
almost without consciousness he carried his parcels and the rug and cushions into the house,
and went out to put up the horse.
Now he was at home,
he was a sleep-walker,
waiting only for the moment of activity to stop.
Very deliberately and carefully,
he led the horse down the slope to the cart-shed.
She shied and backed.
plodding steadily on.
And he was again in a wash of water,
the horse splashed up water as he went.
It was thickly dark,
save for the gig-lamps,
and they lit on a rippling surface of water.
that's a knock-out,"
as he came to the cart-shed,
and was wading in six inches of water.
But everything seemed to him amusing.
He laughed to think of six inches of water being in the cart-shed.
He backed in the mare.
She was restive.
He laughed at the fun of untackling the mare with a lot of water washing round his feet.
He laughed because it upset her.
a drop o' water won't hurt you!"
As soon as he had undone the traces,
she walked quickly away.
He hung up the shafts and took the gig-lamp.
As he came out of the familiar jumble of shafts and wheels in the shed,
in little waves,
came washing strongly against his legs.
He staggered and almost fell.
what the deuce!"
staring round at the running water in the black,
He went to meet the running flood,
sinking deeper and deeper.
His soul was full of great astonishment.
He had to go and look where it came from,
though the ground was going from under his feet.
He went on,
down towards the pond,
He rather enjoyed it.
He was knee-deep,
and the water was pulling heavily.
Fear took hold of him.
Gripping tightly to the lamp,
and looked round.
The water was carrying his feet away,
he was dizzy.
He did not know which way to turn.
The water was whirling,
the whole black night was swooping in rings.
He swayed uncertainly at the centre of all the attack,
reeling in dismay.
In his soul,
he knew he would fall.
As he staggered something in the water struck his legs,
and he fell.
Instantly he was in the turmoil of suffocation.
He fought in a black horror of suffocation,
but always borne down,
borne inevitably down.
Still he wrestled and fought to get himself free,
in the unutterable struggle of suffocation,
but he always fell again deeper.
Something struck his head,
a great wonder of anguish went over him,
then the blackness covered him entirely.
In the utter darkness,
drowning body was rolled along,
the waters pouring,
filling in the place.
The cattle woke up and rose to their feet,
the dog began to yelp.
And the unconscious,
drowning body was washed along in the black,
Mrs. Brangwen woke up and listened.
With preternaturally sharp senses she heard the movement of all the darkness that swirled outside.
For a moment she lay still.
Then she went to the window.
She heard the sharp rain,
and the deep running of water.
She knew her husband was outside.
Away in the night was a hoarse,
brutal roar of a mass of water rushing downwards.
She went downstairs.
She could not understand the multiplied running of water.
Stepping down the step into the kitchen,
she put her foot into water.
The kitchen was flooded.
Where did it come from?
She could not understand.
Water was running in out of the scullery.
She paddled through barefoot,
Water was bubbling fiercely under the outer door.
She was afraid.
Then something washed against her,
something twined under her foot.
It was the riding whip.
On the table were the rug and the cushion and the parcel from the gig.
He had come home.
afraid of her own voice.
She opened the door.
Water ran in with a horrid sound.
Everywhere was moving water,
a sound of waters.
standing in her nightdress with the candle,
calling into the darkness and the flood out of the doorway.
And she listened.
Fred appeared behind her,
in trousers and shirt.
"Where is he?"
He looked at the flood,
then at his mother.
She seemed small and uncanny,
in her nightdress.
"He'll be in th' stable."
cried the elderly woman,
with a long,
penetrating call that chilled her son to the marrow.
He quickly pulled on his boots and his coat.
"I'll go an' see where he is."
To --o --om!"
rang out the shrill,
unearthly cry of the small woman.
There was only the noise of water and the mooing of uneasy cattle,
and the long yelping of the dog,
clamouring in the darkness.
Fred Brangwen splashed out into the flood with a lantern.
His mother stood on a chair in the doorway,
watching him go.
It was all water,
flashing under the lantern.
To --o --om!"
came her long,
ringing over the night.
It made her son feel cold in his soul.
And the unconscious,
drowning body of the father rolled on below the house,
driven by the black water towards the high-road.
a skirt over her nightdress.
She saw her mistress clinging on the top of a chair in the open doorway,
a candle burning on the table.
cried the old serving-woman.
"The cut's burst.
That embankment's broke down.
Whativer are we goin' to do!"
Mrs. Brangwen watched her son,
and the lantern,
go along the upper causeway to the stable.
Then she saw the dark figure of a horse: then her son hung the lamp in the stable,
and the light shone out faintly on him as he untackled the mare.
The mother saw the soft blazed face of the horse thrust forward into the stable-door.
The stables were still above the flood.
But the water flowed strongly into the house.
"It's getting higher,"
"Hasn't master come in?"
Mrs. Brangwen did not hear.
"Isn't he the --ere?"
in her far-reaching,
came the short answer out of the night.
"Go and loo --ok for him."
His mother's voice nearly drove the youth mad.
He put the halter on the horse and shut the stable door.
He came splashing back through the water,
the lantern swinging.
drowning body was pushed past the house in the deepest current.
Fred Brangwen came to his mother.
"I'll go to th' cart-shed,"
To --o --om!"
rang out the strong,
Fred Brangwen's blood froze,
his heart was very angry.
He gripped his veins in a frenzy.
Why was she yelling like this?
He could not bear the sight of her,
perched on a chair in her white nightdress in the doorway,
elvish and horrible.
"He's taken the mare out of the trap,
so he's all right,"
pretending to be normal.
But as he descended to the cart-shed,
he sank into a foot of water.
He heard the rushing in the distance,
he knew the canal had broken down.
The water was running deeper.
The trap was there all right,
but no signs of his father.
The young man waded down to the pond.
The water rose above his knees,
it swirled and forced him.
He drew back.
"Is he the --e --ere?"
came the maddening cry of the mother.
was the sharp answer.
"To --om --To --o --om!"
came the piercing,
It seemed high and supernatural,
Fred Brangwen hated it.
It nearly drove him mad.
So awfully it sang out,
almost like a song.
The water was flowing fuller into the house.
"You'd better go up to Beeby's and bring him and Arthur down,
and tell Mrs. Beeby to fetch Wilkinson,"
said Fred to Tilly.
He forced his mother to go upstairs.
"I know your father is drowned,"
in a curious dismay.
The flood rose through the night,
till it washed the kettle off the hob in the kitchen.
Mrs. Brangwen sat alone at a window upstairs.
She called no more.
The men were busy with the pigs and the cattle.
They were coming with a boat for her.
Towards morning the rain ceased,
the stars came out over the noise and the terrifying clucking and trickling of the water.
Then there was a pallor in the east,
the light began to come.
In the ruddy light of the dawn she saw the waters spreading out,
the buildings rising out of a waste of water.
Birds began to sing,
and as if slightly hoarse with the dawn.
It grew brighter.
Up the second field was the great,
raw gap in the canal embankment.
Mrs. Brangwen went from window to window,
watching the flood.
Somebody had brought a little boat.
The light grew stronger,
the red gleam was gone off the flood-waters,
day took place.
Mrs. Brangwen went from the front of the house to the back,
intent and unrelaxing,
on the pallid morning of spring.
She saw a glimpse of her husband's buff coat in the floods,
as the water rolled the body against the garden hedge.
She called to the men in the boat.
She was glad he was found.
They dragged him out of the hedge.
They could not lift him into the boat.
Fred Brangwen jumped into the water,
up to his waist,
and half carried the body of his father through the flood to the road.
Hay and twigs and dirt were in the beard and hair.
The youth pushed through the water crying loudly without tears,
like a stricken animal.
The mother at the window cried,
making no trouble.
The doctor came.
But the body was dead.
They carried it up to Cossethay,
to Anna's house.
When Anna Brangwen heard the news,
she pressed back her head and rolled her eyes,
as if something were reaching forward to bite at her throat.
She pressed back her head,
her mind was driven back to sleep.
Since she had married and become a mother,
the girl she had been was forgotten.
the shock threatened to break in upon her and sweep away all her intervening life,
make her as a girl of eighteen again,
loving her father.
So she pressed back,
away from the shock,
she clung to her present life.
It was when they brought him to her house dead and in his wet clothes,
fully dressed as he came from market,
yet all sodden and inert,
that the shock really broke into her,
and she was terrified.
who had been to her the image of power and strong life.
Almost in horror,
she began to take the wet things from him,
to pull off him the incongruous market-clothes of a well-to-do farmer.
The children were sent away to the Vicarage,
the dead body lay on the parlour floor,
Anna quickly began to undress him,
laid his fob and seals in a wet heap on the table.
Her husband and the woman helped her.
They cleared and washed the body,
and laid it on the bed.
it looked still and grand.
He was perfectly calm in death,
now he was laid in line,
he was the majesty of the inaccessible male,
the majesty of death.
It made her still and awe-stricken,
also came and saw the impressive,
inviolable body of the dead man.
She went pale,
He was beyond change or knowledge,
laid in line with the infinite.
What had she to do with him?
He was a majestic Abstraction,
made visible now for a moment,
And who could lay claim to him,
who could speak of him,
of the him who was revealed in the stripped moment of transit from life into death?
Neither the living nor the dead could claim him,
he was both the one and the other,
"I shared life with you,
I belong in my own way to eternity,"
said Lydia Brangwen,
her heart cold,
knowing her own singleness.
"I did not know you in life.
You are beyond me,
supreme now in death,"
said Anna Brangwen,
It was the sons who could not bear it.
Fred Brangwen went about with a set,
blanched face and shut hands,
his heart full of hatred and rage for what had been done to his father,
bleeding also with desire to have his father again,
to see him,
to hear him again.
He could not bear it.
Tom Brangwen only arrived on the day of the funeral.
He was quiet and controlled as ever.
He kissed his mother,
who was still dark-faced,
he shook hands with his brother without looking at him,
he saw the great coffin with its black handles.
He even read the name-plate,
of the Marsh Farm.
Born -- --.
Died -- --."
still face of the young man crinkled up for a moment in a terrible grimace,
then resumed its stillness.
The coffin was carried round to the church,
the funeral bell tanged at intervals,
the mourners carried their wreaths of white flowers.
the Polish woman,
went with dark,
on her son's arm.
He was good-looking as ever,
his face perfectly motionless and somehow pleasant.
Fred walked with Anna,
she strange and winsome,
he with a face like wood,
Only afterwards Ursula,
flitting between the currant bushes down the garden,
saw her Uncle Tom standing in his black clothes,
erect and fashionable,
but his fists lifted,
and his face distorted,
his lips curled back from his teeth in a horrible grin,
like an animal which grimaces with torment,
whilst his body panted quick,
like a panting dog's.
He was facing the open distance,
and holding still,
then panting rapidly again,
but his face never changing from its almost bestial look of torture,
the teeth all showing,
the nose wrinkled up,
Ursula slipped away.
And when her Uncle Tom was in the house again,
grave and very quiet,
so that he seemed almost to affect gravity,
to pretend grief,
she watched his still,
imagining it again in its distortion.
But she saw the nose was rather thick,
under its transparent skin,
she remembered the teeth under the carefully cut moustache were small and sharp and spaced.
She could see him,
in all his elegant demeanour,
And she was frightened.
She never forgot to look for the bestial,
frightening side of him,
He said "Good-bye" to his mother and went away at once.
Ursula almost shrank from his kiss,
She wanted it,
and the little revulsion as well.
At the funeral,
and after the funeral,
Will Brangwen was madly in love with his wife.
The death had shaken him.
But death and all seemed to gather in him into a mad,
over-whelming passion for his wife.
She seemed so strange and winsome.
He was almost beside himself with desire for her.
And she took him,
she seemed ready for him,
she wanted him.
The grandmother stayed a while at the Yew Cottage,
till the Marsh was restored.
Then she returned to her own rooms,
and it seemed,
Fred threw himself into the work of restoring the farm.
That his father was killed there,
seemed to make it only the more intimate and the more inevitably his own place.
There was a saying that the Brangwens always died a violent death.
To them all,
except perhaps Tom,
it seemed almost natural.
Yet Fred went about obstinate,
his heart fixed.
He could never forgive the Unknown this murder of his father.
After the death of the father,
the Marsh was very quiet.
Mrs. Brangwen was unsettled.
She could not sit all the evening peacefully,
as she could before,
and during the day she was always rising to her feet and hesitating,
as if she must go somewhere,
and were not quite sure whither.
She was seen loitering about the garden,
in her little woollen jacket.
She was often driven out in the gig,
sitting beside her son and watching the countryside or the streets of the town,
with a childish,
as if it all were strange to her.
Ursula and Gudrun and Theresa went by the garden gate on their way to school.
The grandmother would have them call in each time they passed,
she would have them come to the Marsh for dinner.
She wanted children about her.
Of her sons,
she was almost afraid.
She could see the sombre passion and desire and dissatisfaction in them,
and she wanted not to see it any more.
with his blue eyes and his heavy jaw,
There was no peace.
He wanted something,
he wanted love,
and he could not find them.
But why must he trouble her?
Why must he come to her with his seething and suffering and dissatisfactions?
She was too old.
Tom was more restrained,
He kept his body very still.
But he troubled her even more.
She could not but see the black depths of disintegration in his eyes,
the sudden glance upon her,
as if she could save him,
as if he would reveal himself.
And how could age save youth?
Youth must go to youth.
Always the storm!
Could she not lie in peace,
in the quiet,
apart from life?
always the swell must heave upon her and break against the barriers.
Always she must be embroiled in the seethe and rage and passion,
going on for ever.
And she wanted to draw away.
She wanted at last her own innocence and peace.
She did not want her sons to force upon her any more the old brutal story of desire and offerings and deep,
deep-hidden rage of unsatisfied men against women.
She wanted to be beyond it all,
to know the peace and innocence of age.
She had never been a woman to work much.
So that now she would stand often at the garden-gate,
watching the scant world go by.
And the sight of children pleased her,
made her happy.
She had usually an apple or a few sweets in her pocket.
She liked children to smile at her.
She never went to her husband's grave.
She spoke of him simply,
as if he were alive.
Sometimes the tears would run down her face,
in helpless sadness.
Then she recovered,
and was herself again,
On wet days,
she stayed in bed.
Her bedroom was her city of refuge,
where she could lie down and muse and muse.
Sometimes Fred would read to her.
But that did not mean much.
She had so many dreams to dream over,
such an unsifted store.
She wanted time.
Her chief friend at this period was Ursula.
The little girl and the musing,
fragile woman of sixty seemed to understand the same language.
At Cossethay all was activity and passion,
everything moved upon poles of passion.
Then there were four children younger than Ursula,
a throng of babies,
all the time many lives beating against each other.
So that for the eldest child,
the peace of the grandmother's bedroom was exquisite.
Here Ursula came as to a hushed,
here her own existence became simple and exquisite to her as if she were a flower.
Always on Saturdays she came down to the Marsh,
and always clutching a little offering,
either a little mat made of strips of coloured,
or a tiny basket made in the kindergarten lesson,
or a little crayon drawing of a bird.
When she appeared in the doorway,
ancient but still in authority,
would crane her skinny neck to see who it was.
"I thought we should be seein' you.
that's a bobby-dazzlin' posy you've brought!"
It was curious how Tilly preserved the spirit of Tom Brangwen,
who was dead,
in the Marsh.
Ursula always connected her with her grandfather.
This day the child had brought a tight little nosegay of pinks,
with a rim of pink ones.
She was very proud of it,
and very shy because of her pride.
"Your gran'mother's in her bed.
Wipe your shoes well if you're goin' up,
and don't go burstin' in on her like a skyrocket.
but that's a fine posy!
Did you do it all by yourself,
Tilly stealthily ushered her into the bedroom.
The child entered with a strange,
dragging hesitation characteristic of her when she was moved.
Her grandmother was sitting up in bed,
wearing a little grey woollen jacket.
The child hesitated in silence near the bed,
clutching the nosegay in front of her.
Her childish eyes were shining.
The grandmother's grey eyes shone with a similar light.
"How pretty you have made them!
What a darling little bunch."
thrust them into her grandmother's hand,
"I made them you."
"That is how the peasants tied them at home,"
said the grandmother,
pushing the pinks with her fingers,
and smelling them.
"Just such tight little bunches!
And they make wreaths for their hair --they weave the stalks.
Then they go round with wreaths in their hair,
and wearing their best aprons."
Ursula immediately imagined herself in this story-land.
"Did you used to have a wreath in your hair,
"When I was a little girl,
I had golden hair,
something like Katie's.
Then I used to have a wreath of little blue flowers,
that come when the snow is gone.
used to bring me the very first."
and then Tilly brought the tea-tray,
set for two.
Ursula had a special green and gold cup kept for herself at the Marsh.
There was thin bread and butter,
and cress for tea.
It was all special and wonderful.
She ate very daintily,
with little fastidious bites.
"Why do you have two wedding-rings,
asked the child,
noticing her grandmother's ivory coloured hand with blue veins,
above the tray.
"If I had two husbands,
Ursula pondered a moment.
"Then you must wear both rings together?"
"Which was my grandfather's ring?"
The woman hesitated.
"This grandfather whom you knew?
This was his ring,
the red one.
The yellow one was your other grandfather's whom you never knew."
Ursula looked interestedly at the two rings on the proffered finger.
"Where did he buy it you?"
"You didn't know my own grandfather then?"
"Not this grandfather."
Ursula pondered this fascinating intelligence.
"Did he have white whiskers as well?"
his beard was dark.
You have his brows,
Ursula ceased and became self-conscious.
She at once identified herself with her Polish grandfather.
"And did he have brown eyes?"
He was a clever man,
as quick as a lion.
He was never still."
Lydia still resented Lensky.
When she thought of him,
she was always younger than he,
she was always twenty,
and under his domination.
He incorporated her in his ideas as if she were not a person herself,
as if she were just his aide-de-camp,
or part of his baggage,
or one among his surgical appliances.
She still resented it.
And he was always only thirty: he had died when he was thirty-four.
She did not feel sorry for him.
He was older than she.
Yet she still ached in the thought of those days.
"Did you like my first grandfather best?"
"I liked them both,"
said the grandmother.
she became again Lensky's girl-bride.
He was of good family,
of better family even than her own,
for she was half German.
She was a young girl in a house of insecure fortune.
a clever surgeon and physician,
had loved her.
How she had looked up to him!
She remembered her first transports when he talked to her,
the important young man with the severe black beard.
He had seemed so wonderful,
such an authority.
After her own lax household,
his gravity and confident,
hard authority seemed almost God-like to her.
For she had never known it in her life,
all her surroundings had been loose,
will you marry me?"
he had said to her in German,
in his grave,
yet tremulous voice.
She had been afraid of his dark eyes upon her.
They did not see her,
they were fixed upon her.
And he was hard,
She thrilled with the excitement of it,
During the courtship,
his kisses were a wonder to her.
She always thought about them,
and wondered over them.
She never wanted to kiss him back.
In her idea,
the man kissed,
and the woman examined in her soul the kisses she had received.
She had never quite recovered from her prostration of the first days,
He had taken her to Vienna,
and she was utterly alone with him,
utterly alone in another world,
even he foreign to her.
Then came the real marriage,
passion came to her,
and she became his slave,
he was her lord,
She was the girl-bride,
she kissed his feet,
she had thought it an honour to touch his body,
to unfasten his boots.
For two years,
she had gone on as his slave,
crouching at his feet,
embracing his knees.
Children had come,
he had followed his ideas.
She was there for him,
just to keep him in condition.
She was to him one of the baser or material conditions necessary for his welfare in prosecuting his ideas,
she began to realize that she too might consider these ideas.
By his acceptance of her self-subordination,
he exhausted the feeling in her.
There were those of his associates who would discuss the ideas with her,
though he did not wish to do so himself.
She adventured into the minds of other men.
was not the only male mind!
She did not exist,
just as his attribute!
She began to perceive the attention of other men.
An excitement came over her.
She remembered now the men who had paid her court,
when she was married,
Then the rebellion broke out,
and she was inspired too.
She would go as a nurse at her husband's side.
He worked like a lion,
he wore his life out.
And she followed him helplessly.
But she disbelieved in him.
He was so separate,
he ignored so much.
He counted too much on himself.
--did nothing else matter?
Then the children were dead,
and for her,
everything became remote.
He became remote.
She saw him,
she saw him go white when he heard the news,
as if he thought,
"Why have they died now,
when I have no time to grieve?"
"He has no time to grieve,"
she had said,
in her remote,
"He has no time.
It is so important,
what he does!
He is then so self-important,
this half-frenzied man!
but this work of rebellion!
He has not time to grieve,
nor to think of his children!
He had not time even to beget them,
She had let him go on alone.
in the chaos,
she had worked by his side again.
And out of the chaos,
she had fled with him to London.
He was a broken,
He had no affection for her,
nor for anyone.
He had failed in his work,
so everything had failed.
She could not subscribe.
He had failed,
everything had failed,
yet behind the failure was the unyielding passion of life.
The individual effort might fail,
but not the human joy.
She belonged to the human joy.
He died and went his way,
but not before there was another child.
And this little Ursula was his grandchild.
She was glad of it.
For she still honoured him,
though he had been mistaken.
was sorry for him now.
He was dead --he had scarcely lived.
He had never known her.
He had lain with her,
but he had never known her.
He had never received what she could give him.
He had gone away from her empty.
he had never lived.
he had died and passed away.
Yet there had been strength and power in him.
She could scarcely forgive him that he had never lived.
If it were not for Anna,
and for this little Ursula,
who had his brows,
there would be no more left of him than of a broken vessel thrown away,
and just remembered.
Tom Brangwen had served her.
He had come to her,
and taken from her.
He had died and gone his way into death.
But he had made himself immortal in his knowledge with her.
So she had her place here,
and in immortality.
For he had taken his knowledge of her into death,
so that she had her place in death.
"In my father's house are many mansions."
She loved both her husbands.
To one she had been a naked little girl-bride,
running to serve him.
The other she loved out of fulfilment,
because he was good and had given her being,
because he had served her honourably,
and become her man,
one with her.
She was established in this stretch of life,
she had come to herself.
During her first marriage,
she had not existed,
except through him,
he was the substance and she the shadow running at his feet.
She was very glad she had come to her own self.
She was grateful to Brangwen.
She reached out to him in gratitude,
In her heart she felt a vague tenderness and pity for her first husband,
who had been her lord.
He was so wrong when he died.
She could not bear it,
that he had never lived,
never really become himself.
And he had been her lord!
it all had been!
Why had he been her lord?
He seemed now so far off,
so without bearing on her.
"Which did you,
"I liked them both.
I married the first when I was quite a girl.
Then I loved your grandfather when I was a woman.
There is a difference."
They were silent for a time.
"Did you cry when my first grandfather died?"
the child asked.
Lydia Brangwen rocked herself on the bed,
"When we came to England,
he hardly ever spoke,
he was too much concerned to take any notice of anybody.
He grew thinner and thinner,
till his cheeks were hollow and his mouth stuck out.
He wasn't handsome any more.
I knew he couldn't bear being beaten,
I thought everything was lost in the world.
Only I had your mother a baby,
it was no use my dying.
"He looked at me with his black eyes,
almost as if he hated me,
when he was ill,
'It only wanted this.
It only wanted that I should leave you and a young child to starve in this London.'
I told him we should not starve.
But I was young,
which he knew.
"He was bitter,
and he never gave way.
He lay beating his brains,
to see what he could do.
'I don't know what you will do,'
'I am no good,
I am a failure from beginning to end.
I cannot even provide for my wife and child!'
"But you see,
it was not for him to provide for us.
My life went on,
though his stopped,
and I married your grandfather.
"I ought to have known,
I ought to have been able to say to him:
'Don't be so bitter,
don't die because this has failed.
You are not the beginning and the end.'
But I was too young,
he had never let me become myself,
I thought he was truly the beginning and the end.
So I let him take all upon himself.
Yet all did not depend on him.
Life must go on,
and I must marry your grandfather,
and have your Uncle Tom,
and your Uncle Fred.
We cannot take so much upon ourselves."
The child's heart beat fast as she listened to these things.
She could not understand,
but she seemed to feel far-off things.
It gave her a deep,
to know she hailed from far off,
and that dark-bearded impressive man.
her antecedents were,
and she felt fate on either side of her terrible.
Almost every day,
Ursula saw her grandmother,
and every time,
they talked together.
Till the grandmother's sayings and stories,
told in the complete hush of the Marsh bedroom,
accumulated with mystic significance,
and became a sort of Bible to the child.
And Ursula asked her deepest childish questions of her grandmother.
"Will somebody love me,
"Many people love you,
We all love you."
"But when I am grown up,
will somebody love me?"
some man will love you,
because it's your nature.
And I hope it will be somebody who will love you for what you are,
and not for what he wants of you.
But we have a right to what we want."
Ursula was frightened,
hearing these things.
Her heart sank,
she felt she had no ground under her feet.
She clung to her grandmother.
Here was peace and security.
from her grandmother's peaceful room,
the door opened on to the greater space,
which was so big,
that all it contained seemed tiny,
loves and births and deaths,
tiny units and features within a vast horizon.
That was a great relief,
to know the tiny importance of the individual,
within the great past.
THE WIDENING CIRCLE
It was very burdensome to Ursula,
that she was the eldest of the family.
By the time she was eleven,
she had to take to school Gudrun and Theresa and Catherine.
always called Billy,
so that he should not be confused with his father,
was a lovable,
rather delicate child of three,
so he stayed at home as yet.
There was another baby girl,
The children went for a time to the little church school just near the Marsh.
It was the only place within reach,
and being so small,
Mrs. Brangwen felt safe in sending her children there,
though the village boys did nickname Ursula "Urtler",
and Gudrun "Good-runner",
and Theresa "Tea-pot".
Gudrun and Ursula were co-mates.
The second child,
with her long,
sleepy body and her endless chain of fancies,
would have nothing to do with realities.
She was not for them,
she was for her own fancies.
Ursula was the one for realities.
So Gudrun left all such to her elder sister,
and trusted in her implicitly,
Ursula had a great tenderness for her co-mate sister.
It was no good trying to make Gudrun responsible.
She floated along like a fish in the sea,
perfect within the medium of her own difference and being.
Other existence did not trouble her.
Only she believed in Ursula,
and trusted to Ursula.
The eldest child was very much fretted by her responsibility for the other young ones.
had a faculty for warfare.
Billy Pillins has lugged my hair."
"What did you say to him?"
"I said nothing."
Then the Brangwen girls were in for a feud with the Pillinses,
"You won't pull my hair again,
walking with her sisters,
and looking superbly at the freckled,
"Why shan't I?"
retorted Billy Pillins.
"You won't because you dursn't,"
said the tiresome Theresa.
"You come here,
an' see if I dursna."
Up marched Tea-pot,
and immediately Billy Pillins lugged her black,
In a rage she flew at him.
Immediately in rushed Ursula and Gudrun,
and little Katie,
in clashed the other Phillipses,
Clem and Walter,
and Eddie Anthony.
Then there was a fray.
The Brangwen girls were well-grown and stronger than many boys.
But for pinafores and long hair,
they would have carried easy victories.
They went home,
with hair lugged and pinafores torn.
It was a joy to the Phillips boys to rip the pinafores of the Brangwen girls.
Then there was an outcry.
Mrs. Brangwen would not have it;
she would not.
All her innate dignity and standoffishness rose up.
Then there was the vicar lecturing the school.
"It was a sad thing that the boys of Cossethay could not behave more like gentlemen to the girls of Cossethay.
what kind of boy was it that should set upon a girl,
and kick her,
and beat her,
and tear her pinafore?
That boy deserved severe castigation,
and the name of coward,
for no boy who was not a coward --etc.,
Meanwhile much hang-dog fury in the Pillinses' hearts,
much virtue in the Brangwen girls',
particularly in Theresa's.
And the feud continued,
with periods of extraordinary amity,
when Ursula was Clem Phillips's sweetheart,
and Gudrun was Walter's,
and Theresa was Billy's,
and even the tiny Katie had to be Eddie Ant'ny's sweetheart.
There was the closest union.
At every possible moment the little gang of Brangwens and Phillipses flew together.
Yet neither Ursula nor Gudrun would have any real intimacy with the Phillips boys.
It was a sort of fiction to them,
this alliance and this dubbing of sweethearts.
Again Mrs. Brangwen rose up.
I will not have you raking the roads with lads,
so I tell you.
Now stop it,
and the rest will stop it."
How Ursula hated always to represent the little Brangwen club.
She could never be herself,
she was always Ursula-Gudrun-Theresa-Catherine --and later even Billy was added on to her.
she did not want the Phillipses either.
She was out of taste with them.
the Brangwen-Pillins coalition readily broke down,
owing to the unfair superiority of the Brangwens.
The Brangwens were rich.
They had free access to the Marsh Farm.
The school teachers were almost respectful to the girls,
the vicar spoke to them on equal terms.
The Brangwen girls presumed,
they tossed their heads.
"You're not ivrybody,
said Clem Phillips,
his face going very red.
"I'm better than you,
for all that,"
"You think you are --wi' a face like that --Ugly Mug,
he began to jeer,
trying to set all the others in cry against her.
Then there was hostility again.
How she hated their jeering.
She became cold against the Phillipses.
Ursula was very proud in her family.
The Brangwen girls had all a curious blind dignity,
even a kind of nobility in their bearing.
By some result of breed and upbringing,
they seemed to rush along their own lives without caring that they existed to other people.
Never from the start did it occur to Ursula that other people might hold a low opinion of her.
She thought that whosoever knew her,
knew she was enough and accepted her as such.
She thought it was a world of people like herself.
She suffered bitterly if she were forced to have a low opinion of any person,
and she never forgave that person.
This was maddening to many little people.
All their lives,
the Brangwens were meeting folk who tried to pull them down to make them seem little.
the mother was aware of what would happen,
and was always ready to give her children the advantage of the move.
When Ursula was twelve,
and the common school and the companionship of the village children,
niggardly and begrudging,
was beginning to affect her,
Anna sent her with Gudrun to the Grammar School in Nottingham.
This was a great release for Ursula.
She had a passionate craving to escape from the belittling circumstances of life,
the little jealousies,
the little differences,
the little meannesses.
It was a torture to her that the Phillipses were poorer and meaner than herself,
that they used mean little reservations,
took petty little advantages.
She wanted to be with her equals: but not by diminishing herself.
She did want Clem Phillips to be her equal.
But by some puzzling,
painful fate or other,
when he was really there with her,
he produced in her a tight feeling in the head.
She wanted to beat her forehead,
Then she found that the way to escape was easy.
One departed from the whole circumstance.
One went away to the Grammar School,
and left the little school,
the meagre teachers,
the Phillipses whom she had tried to love but who had made her fail,
and whom she could not forgive.
She had an instinctive fear of petty people,
as a deer is afraid of dogs.
Because she was blind,
she could not calculate nor estimate people.
She must think that everybody was just like herself.
She measured by the standard of her own people: her father and mother,
Her beloved father,
so utterly simple in his demeanour,
yet with his strong,
dark soul fixed like a root in unexpressed depths that fascinated and terrified her: her mother,
so strangely free of all money and convention and fear,
entirely indifferent to the world,
standing by herself,
without connection: her grandmother,
who had come from so far and was centred in so wide an horizon: people must come up to these standards before they could be Ursula's people.
So even as a girl of twelve she was glad to burst the narrow boundary of Cossethay,
where only limited people lived.
was all vastness,
and a throng of real,
proud people whom she would love.
Going to school by train,
she must leave home at a quarter to eight in the morning,
and she did not arrive again till half-past five at evening.
Of this she was glad,
for the house was small and overful.
It was a storm of movement,
whence there had been no escape.
She hated so much being in charge.
The house was a storm of movement.
The children were healthy and turbulent,
the mother only wanted their animal well-being.
as she grew a little older,
it became a nightmare.
When she saw,
a Rubens picture with storms of naked babies,
and found this was called "Fecundity",
and the world became abhorrent to her.
She knew as a child what it was to live amidst storms of babies,
in the heat and swelter of fecundity.
And as a child,
she was against her mother,
passionately against her mother,
she craved for some spirituality and stateliness.
In bad weather,
home was a bedlam.
Children dashed in and out of the rain,
to the puddles under the dismal yew trees,
across the wet flagstones of the kitchen,
whilst the cleaning-woman grumbled and scolded;
children were swarming on the sofa,
children were kicking the piano in the parlour,
to make it sound like a beehive,
children were rolling on the hearthrug,
legs in air,
pulling a book in two between them,
were stealing upstairs to find out where our Ursula was,
whispering at bedroom doors,
hanging on the latch,
to the girl who had locked herself in to read.
And it was hopeless.
The locked door excited their sense of mystery,
she had to open to dispel the lure.
These children hung on to her with round-eyed excited questions.
The mother flourished amid all this.
"Better have them noisy than ill,"
But the growing girls,
Ursula was just coming to the stage when Andersen and Grimm were being left behind for the "Idylls of the King" and romantic love-stories.
"Elaine the fair Elaine the lovable,
Elaine the lily maid of Astolat,
High in her chamber in a tower to the east Guarded the sacred shield of Launcelot."
How she loved it!
How she leaned in her bedroom window with her black,
rough hair on her shoulders,
and her warm face all rapt,
and gazed across at the churchyard and the little church,
which was a turreted castle,
whence Launcelot would ride just now,
would wave to her as he rode by,
his scarlet cloak passing behind the dark yew trees and between the open space: whilst she,
would remain the lonely maid high up and isolated in the tower,
polishing the terrible shield,
weaving it a covering with a true device,
always remote and high.
At which point there would be a faint scuffle on the stairs,
a light-pitched whispering outside the door,
and a creaking of the latch: then Billy,
"It's locked --it's locked."
Then the knocking,
kicking at the door with childish knees,
and the urgent,
"Ursula --our Ursula?
Eh --our Ursula?"
the name was shouted now Still no answer.
she won't answer,"
came the yell.
"Go away --I'm not dead.
What do you want?"
came the angry voice of the girl.
"Open the door,
came the complaining cry.
It was all over.
She must open the door.
She heard the screech of the bucket downstairs dragged across the flagstones as the woman washed the kitchen floor.
And the children were prowling in the bedroom,
"What were you doing?
What had you locked the door for?"
Then she discovered the key of the parish room,
and betook herself there,
and sat on some sacks with her books.
There began another dream.
She was the only daughter of the old lord,
she was gifted with magic.
Day followed day of rapt silence,
whilst she wandered ghost-like in the hushed,
or flitted along the sleeping terraces.
Here a grave grief attacked her: that her hair was dark.
She must have fair hair and a white skin.
She was rather bitter about her black mane.
she would dye it when she grew up,
or bleach it in the sun,
till it was bleached fair.
Meanwhile she wore a fair white coif of pure Venetian lace.
She flitted silently along the terraces,
where jewelled lizards basked upon the stone,
and did not move when her shadow fell upon them.
In the utter stillness she heard the tinkle of the fountain,
and smelled the roses whose blossoms hung rich and motionless.
So she drifted,
drifted on the wistful feet of beauty,
past the water and the swans,
to the noble park,
underneath a great oak,
a doe all dappled lay with her four fine feet together,
her fawn nestling sun-coloured beside her.
and this doe was her familiar.
It would talk to her,
because she was a magician,
it would tell her stories as if the sunshine spoke.
Then one day,
she left the door of the parish room unlocked,
careless and unheeding as she always was;
the children found their way in,
Katie cut her finger and howled,
Billy hacked notches in the fine chisels,
and did much damage.
There was a great commotion.
The crossness of the mother was soon finished.
Ursula locked up the room again,
and considered all was over.
Then her father came in with the notched tools,
his forehead knotted.
"Who the deuce opened the door?"
he cried in anger.
"It was Ursula who opened the door,"
said her mother.
He had a duster in his hand.
He turned and flapped the cloth hard across the girl's face.
The cloth stung,
for a moment the girl was as if stunned.
Then she remained motionless,
her face closed and stubborn.
But her heart was blazing.
In spite of herself the tears surged higher,
in spite of her they surged higher.
In spite of her,
her face broke,
she made a curious gulping grimace,
and the tears were falling.
So she went away,
But her blazing heart was fierce and unyielding.
He watched her go,
and a pleasurable pain filled him,
a sense of triumph and easy power,
followed immediately by acute pity.
"I'm sure that was unnecessary --to hit the girl across the face,"
said the mother coldly.
"A flip with the duster won't hurt her,"
"Nor will it do her any good."
Ursula's heart burned from this rebuff.
She felt so cruelly vulnerable.
Did he not know how vulnerable she was,
how exposed and wincing?
of all people,
And he wanted to do this to her.
He wanted to hurt her right through her closest sensitiveness,
he wanted to treat her with shame,
to maim her with insult.
Her heart burnt in isolation,
like a watchfire lighted.
She did not forget,
she did not forget,
she never forgot.
When she returned to her love for her father,
the seed of mistrust and defiance burned unquenched,
though covered up far from sight.
She no longer belonged to him unquestioned.
the fire of mistrust and defiance burned in her,
burned away her connection with him.
She ran a good deal alone,
having a passion for all moving,
She loved the little brooks.
Wherever she found a little running water,
she was happy.
It seemed to make her run and sing in spirit along with it.
She could sit for hours by a brook or stream,
on the roots of the alders,
and watch the water hasten dancing over the stones,
or among the twigs of a fallen branch.
little fish vanished before they had become real,
sometimes wagtails ran by the water's brink,
sometimes other little birds came to drink.
She saw a kingfisher darting blue --and then she was very happy.
The kingfisher was the key to the magic world: he was witness of the border of enchantment.
But she must move out of the intricately woven illusion of her life: the illusion of a father whose life was an Odyssey in an outer world;
the illusion of her grandmother,
of realities so shadowy and far-off that they became as mystic symbols: --peasant-girls with wreaths of blue flowers in their hair,
the sledges and the depths of winter;
the dark-bearded young grandfather,
marriage and war and death;
then the multitude of illusions concerning herself,
how she was truly a princess of Poland,
how in England she was under a spell,
she was not really this Ursula Brangwen;
then the mirage of her reading: out of the multicoloured illusion of this her life,
she must move on,
to the Grammar School in Nottingham.
She was shy,
and she suffered.
For one thing,
she bit her nails,
and had a cruel consciousness in her finger-tips,
Out of all proportion,
this shame haunted her.
She spent hours of torture,
conjuring how she might keep her gloves on: if she might say her hands were scalded,
if she might seem to forget to take off her gloves.
For she was going to inherit her own estate,
when she went to the High School.
each girl was a lady.
she was going to walk among free souls,
her co-mates and her equals,
and all petty things would be put away.
if only she did not bite her nails!
If only she had not this blemish!
She wanted so much to be perfect --without spot or blemish,
living the high,
It was a grief to her that her father made such a poor introduction.
He was brief as ever,
like a boy saying his errand,
and his clothes looked ill-fitting and casual.
Whereas Ursula would have liked robes and a ceremonial of introduction to this,
her new estate.
She made a new illusion of school.
had a certain silvery,
school-mistressy beauty of character.
The school itself had been a gentleman's house.
sombre lawns separated it from the dark,
But its rooms were large and of good appearance,
and from the back,
one looked over lawns and shrubbery,
over the trees and the grassy slope of the Arboretum,
to the town which heaped the hollow with its roofs and cupolas and its shadows.
So Ursula seated herself upon the hill of learning,
looking down on the smoke and confusion and the manufacturing,
engrossed activity of the town.
She was happy.
in the Grammar School,
she fancied the air was finer,
beyond the factory smoke.
She wanted to learn Latin and Greek and French and mathematics.
She trembled like a postulant when she wrote the Greek alphabet for the first time.
She was upon another hill-slope,
whose summit she had not scaled.
There was always the marvellous eagerness in her heart,
to climb and to see beyond.
A Latin verb was virgin soil to her: she sniffed a new odour in it;
it meant something,
though she did not know what it meant.
But she gathered it up: it was significant.
When she knew that:
x2-y2 = (x + y)(x-y)
then she felt that she had grasped something,
that she was liberated into an intoxicating air,
rare and unconditioned.
And she was very glad as she wrote her French exercise:
"J'AI DONNE LE PAIN A MON PETIT FRERE."
In all these things there was the sound of a bugle to her heart,
summoning her to perfect places.
She never forgot her brown "Longman's First French Grammar",
nor her "Via Latina" with its red edges,
nor her little grey Algebra book.
There was always a magic in them.
At learning she was quick,
but she was not "thorough".
If a thing did not come to her instinctively,
she could not learn it.
her mad rage of loathing for all lessons,
her bitter contempt of all teachers and schoolmistresses,
her recoil to a fierce,
animal arrogance made her detestable.
She was a free,
she declared in her revolts: there was no law for her,
nor any rule.
She existed for herself alone.
Then ensued a long struggle with everybody,
in which she broke down at last,
when she had run the full length of her resistance,
and sobbed her heart out,
in a chastened,
she received the understanding that would not come before,
and went her way sadder and wiser.
Ursula and Gudrun went to school together.
Gudrun was a shy,
a thin slip of a thing hanging back from notice or twisting past to disappear into her own world again.
She seemed to avoid all contact,
and pursued her own intent way,
pursuing half-formed fancies that had no relation to anyone else.
She was not clever at all.
She thought Ursula clever enough for two.
so why should she,
The younger girl lived her religious,
responsible life in her sister,
she was indifferent and intent as a wild animal,
and as irresponsible.
When she found herself at the bottom of the class,
and was content,
saying she was safe now.
She did not mind her father's chagrin nor her mother's tinge of mortification.
"What do I pay for you to go to Nottingham for?"
her father asked,
you know you needn't pay for me,"
"I'm ready to stop at home."
She was happy at home,
Ursula was not.
Slim and unwilling abroad,
Gudrun was easy in her own house as a wild thing in its lair.
attentive and keen abroad,
at home was reluctant,
unwilling to be herself,
Nevertheless Sunday remained the maximum day of the week for both.
Ursula turned passionately to it,
to the sense of eternal security it gave.
She suffered anguish of fears during the week-days,
for she felt strong powers that would not recognize her.
There was upon her always a fear and a dislike of authority.
She felt she could always do as she wanted if she managed to avoid a battle with Authority and the authorised Powers.
But if she gave herself away,
she would be lost,
There was always the menace against her.
This strange sense of cruelty and ugliness always imminent,
ready to seize hold upon her this feeling of the grudging power of the mob lying in wait for her,
who was the exception,
formed one of the deepest influences of her life.
Wherever she was,
in the street,
in the train,
she instinctively abated herself,
made herself smaller,
feigned to be less than she was,
for fear that her undiscovered self should be seen,
attacked by brutish resentment of the commonplace,
the average Self.
She was fairly safe at school,
She knew how to take her place there,
and how much of herself to reserve.
But she was free only on Sundays.
When she was but a girl of fourteen,
she began to feel a resentment growing against her in her own home.
She knew she was the disturbing influence there.
But as yet,
she was free,
free to be herself,
without fear or misgiving.
Even at its stormiest,
Sunday was a blessed day.
Ursula woke to it with a feeling of immense relief.
She wondered why her heart was so light.
Then she remembered it was Sunday.
A gladness seemed to burst out around her,
a feeling of great freedom.
The whole world was for twenty-four hours revoked,
Only the Sunday world existed.
She loved the very confusion of the household.
It was lucky if the children slept till seven o'clock.
soon after six,
a chirp was heard,
an excited chirrup began,
announcing the creation of a new day,
there was a thudding of quick little feet,
and the children were up and about,
scampering in their shirts,
with pink legs and glistening,
flossy hair all clean from the Saturday's night bathing,
their souls excited by their bodies' cleanliness.
As the house began to teem with rushing,
half-naked clean children,
one of the parents rose,
either the mother,
easy and slatternly,
with her thick,
dark hair loosely coiled and slipping over one ear,
or the father,
warm and comfortable,
with ruffled black hair and shirt unbuttoned at the neck.
Then the girls upstairs heard the continual:
what are you up to?"
in the father's strong,
vibrating voice: or the mother's dignified:
"I have said,
I will not have it."
It was amazing how the father's voice could ring out like a gong,
without his being in the least moved,
and how the mother could speak like a queen holding an audience,
though her blouse was sticking out all round and her hair was not fastened up and the children were yelling a pandemonium.
Gradually breakfast was produced,
and the elder girls came down into the babel,
whilst half-naked children flitted round like the wrong ends of cherubs,
as Gudrun said,
watching the bare little legs and the chubby tails appearing and disappearing.
Gradually the young ones were captured,
and nightdresses finally removed,
ready for the clean Sunday shirt.
But before the Sunday shirt was slipped over the fleecy head,
away darted the naked body,
to wallow in the sheepskin which formed the parlour rug,
whilst the mother walked after,
holding the shirt like a noose,
and the father's bronze voice rang out,
and the naked child wallowing on its back in the deep sheepskin announced gleefully:
"I'm bading in the sea,
"Why should I walk after you with your shirt?"
said the mother.
"Get up now."
"I'm bading in the sea,
repeated the wallowing,
"We say bathing,
said the mother,
with her strange,
"I am waiting here with your shirt."
At length shirts were on,
and stockings were paired,
and little trousers buttoned and little petticoats tied behind.
The besetting cowardice of the family was its shirking of the garter question.
"Where are your garters,
"I don't know."
look for them."
But not one of the elder Brangwens would really face the situation.
After Cassie had grovelled under all the furniture and blacked up all her Sunday cleanliness,
to the infinite grief of everybody,
the garter was forgotten in the new washing of the young face and hands.
Ursula would be indignant to see Miss Cassie marching into church from Sunday school with her stocking sluthered down to her ankle,
and a grubby knee showing.
cried Ursula at dinner.
"People will think we're pigs,
and the children are never washed."
"Never mind what people think,"
said the mother superbly.
"I see that the child is bathed properly,
and if I satisfy myself I satisfy everybody.
She can't keep her stocking up and no garter,
and it isn't the child's fault she was let to go without one."
The garter trouble continued in varying degrees,
but till each child wore long skirts or long trousers,
it was not removed.
On this day of decorum,
the Brangwen family went to church by the high-road,
making a detour outside all the garden-hedge,
rather than climb the wall into the churchyard.
There was no law of this,
from the parents.
The children themselves were the wardens of the Sabbath decency,
very jealous and instant with each other.
It came to be,
that after church on Sundays the house was really something of a sanctuary,
with peace breathing like a strange bird alighted in the rooms.
only reading and tale-telling and quiet pursuits,
such as drawing,
Out of doors,
all playing was to be carried on unobtrusively.
If there were noise,
yelling or shouting,
then some fierce spirit woke up in the father and the elder children,
so that the younger were subdued,
afraid of being excommunicated.
The children themselves preserved the Sabbath.
If Ursula in her vanity sang:
"Il était un' bergère Et ron-ron-ron petit patapon,"
Theresa was sure to cry:
"That's not a Sunday song,
"You don't know,"
And her song faded down before she came to the end.
though she did not know it,
her Sunday was very precious to her.
She found herself in a strange,
where her spirit could wander in dreams,
The white-robed spirit of Christ passed between olive trees.
It was a vision,
not a reality.
And she herself partook of the visionary being.
There was the voice in the night calling,
And still the voice called in the night.
But not this night,
nor last night,
but in the unfathomed night of Sunday,
of the Sabbath silence.
There was Sin,
in whom was also wisdom.
There was Judas with the money and the kiss.
But there was no actual Sin.
If Ursula slapped Theresa across the face,
even on a Sunday,
that was not Sin,
It was misbehaviour.
If Billy played truant from Sunday school,
he was bad,
he was wicked,
but he was not a Sinner.
Sin was absolute and everlasting: wickedness and badness were temporary and relative.
catching up the local jargon,
called Cassie a "sinner",
everybody detested him.
Yet when there came to the Marsh a flippetty-floppetty foxhound puppy,
he was mischievously christened "Sinner".
The Brangwens shrank from applying their religion to their own immediate actions.
They wanted the sense of the eternal and immortal,
not a list of rules for everyday conduct.
Therefore they were badly-behaved children,
headstrong and arrogant,
though their feelings were generous.
moreover --intolerable to their ordinary neighbours --a proud gesture,
that did not fit with the jealous idea of the democratic Christian.
So that they were always extraordinary,
outside of the ordinary.
How bitterly Ursula resented her first acquaintance with evangelical teachings.
She got a peculiar thrill from the application of salvation to her own personal case.
"Jesus died for me,
He suffered for me."
There was a pride and a thrill in it,
followed almost immediately by a sense of dreariness.
Jesus with holes in His hands and feet: it was distasteful to her.
The shadowy Jesus with the Stigmata: that was her own vision.
But Jesus the actual man,
talking with teeth and lips,
telling one to put one's finger into His wounds,
like a villager gloating in his sores,
She was enemy of those who insisted on the humanity of Christ.
If He were just a man,
living in ordinary human life,
then she was indifferent.
But it was the jealousy of vulgar people which must insist on the humanity of Christ.
It was the vulgar mind which would allow nothing extra-human,
nothing beyond itself to exist.
It was the dirty,
desecrating hands of the revivalists which wanted to drag Jesus into this everyday life,
to dress Jesus up in trousers and frock-coat,
to compel Him to a vulgar equality of footing.
It was the impudent suburban soul which would ask,
"What would Jesus do,
if he were in my shoes?"
Against all this,
the Brangwens stood at bay.
If any one,
it was the mother who was caught by,
or who was most careless of the vulgar clamour.
She would have nothing extra-human.
She never really subscribed,
all her life,
to Brangwen's mystical passion.
But Ursula was with her father.
As she became adolescent,
she set more and more against her mother's practical indifference.
there was something callous,
almost wicked in her mother's attitude.
What did Anna Brangwen,
in these years,
care for God or Jesus or Angels?
She was the immediate life of to-day.
Children were still being born to her,
she was throng with all the little activities of her family.
And almost instinctively she resented her husband's slavish service to the Church,
subject hankering to worship an unseen God.
What did the unrevealed God matter,
when a man had a young family that needed fettling for?
Let him attend to the immediate concerns of his life,
not go projecting himself towards the ultimate.
But Ursula was all for the ultimate.
She was always in revolt against babies and muddled domesticity.
To her Jesus was another world,
He was not of this world.
He did not thrust His hands under her face and,
pointing to His wounds,
I got these for your sake.
Now do as you're told."
Jesus was beautifully remote,
shining in the distance,
like a white moon at sunset,
a crescent moon beckoning as it follows the sun,
out of our ken.
Sometimes dark clouds standing very far off,
pricking up into a clear yellow band of sunset,
of a winter evening,
reminded her of Calvary,
sometimes the full moon rising blood-red upon the hill terrified her with the knowledge that Christ was now dead,
hanging heavy and dead upon the Cross.
this visionary world came to pass.
She heard the long hush,
she knew the marriage of dark and light was taking place.
the Voice sounded,
re-echoing not from this world,
as if the Church itself were a shell that still spoke the language of creation.
"The Sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair: and they took them wives of all which they chose.
"And the Lord said,
My spirit shall not always strive with Man,
for that he also is flesh;
yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.
"There were giants in the earth in those days;
and also after that,
when the Sons of God came in unto the daughters of men,
and they bare children unto them,
the same became mighty men which were of old,
men of renown."
Over this Ursula was stirred as by a call from far off.
In those days,
would not the Sons of God have found her fair,
would she not have been taken to wife by one of the Sons of God?
It was a dream that frightened her,
for she could not understand it.
Who were the sons of God?
Was not Jesus the only begotten Son?
Was not Adam the only man created from God?
Yet there were men not begotten by Adam.
Who were these,
and whence did they come?
They too must derive from God.
Had God many offspring,
besides Adam and besides Jesus,
children whose origin the children of Adam cannot recognize?
And perhaps these children,
these sons of God,
had known no expulsion,
no ignominy of the fall.
These came on free feet to the daughters of men,
and saw they were fair,
and took them to wife,
so that the women conceived and brought forth men of renown.
This was a genuine fate.
She moved about in the essential days,
when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men.
Nor would any comparison of myths destroy her passion in the knowledge.
Jove had become a bull,
or a man,
in order to love a mortal woman.
He had begotten in her a giant,
so he had,
she was no Grecian woman.
Not Jove nor Pan nor any of those gods,
not even Bacchus nor Apollo,
could come to her.
But the Sons of God who took to wife the daughters of men,
these were such as should take her to wife.
She clung to the secret hope,
She lived a dual life,
one where the facts of daily life encompassed everything,
and the other wherein the facts of daily life were superseded by the eternal truth.
So utterly did she desire the Sons of God should come to the daughters of men;
and she believed more in her desire and its fulfilment than in the obvious facts of life.
The fact that a man was a man,
did not state his descent from Adam,
did not exclude that he was also one of the unhistoried,
unaccountable Sons of God.
she was confused,
but not denied.
Again she heard the Voice:
"It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle,
than for a rich man to enter into heaven."
But it was explained,
the needle's eye was a little gateway for foot passengers,
through which the great,
humped camel with his load could not possibly squeeze himself: or perhaps at a great risk,
if he were a little camel,
he might get through.
For one could not absolutely exclude the rich man from heaven,
said the Sunday school teachers.
It pleased her also to know,
that in the East one must use hyperbole,
or else remain unheard;
because the Eastern man must see a thing swelling to fill all heaven,
or dwindled to a mere nothing,
before he is suitably impressed.
She immediately sympathized with this Eastern mind.
Yet the words continued to have a meaning that was untouched either by the knowledge of gateways or hyperboles.
or psychological interest in the words was another thing.
There remained unaltered the inexplicable value of the saying.
What was this relation between a needle's eye,
a rich man,
What sort of a needle's eye,
what sort of a rich man,
what sort of heaven?
It means the Absolute World,
and can never be more than half interpreted in terms of the relative world.
But must one apply the speech literally?
Was her father a rich man?
Couldn't he get to heaven?
Or was he only a half-rich man?
Or was he merely a poor man?
At any rate,
unless he gave everything away to the poor,
he would find it much harder to get to heaven.
The needle's eye would be too tight for him.
She almost wished he were penniless poor.
If one were coming to the base of it,
any man was rich who was not as poor as the poorest.
She had her qualms,
when in imagination she saw her father giving away their piano and the two cows,
and the capital at the bank,
to the labourers of the district,
so that they,
should be as poor as the Wherrys.
And she did not want it.
She was impatient.
"we'll forego that heaven,
that's all --at any rate the needle's eye sort."
And she dismissed the problem.
She was not going to be as poor as the Wherrys,
not for all the sayings on earth --the miserable squalid Wherrys.
So she reverted to the non-literal application of the scriptures.
Her father very rarely read,
but he had collected many books of reproductions,
and he would sit and look at these,
like a child,
yet with a passion that was not childish.
He loved the early Italian painters,
but particularly Giotto and Fra Angelico and Filippo Lippi.
The great compositions cast a spell over him.
How many times had he turned to Raphael's "Dispute of the Sacrament" or Fra Angelico's "Last Judgment" or the beautiful,
complicated renderings of the Adoration of the Magi,
he received the same gradual fulfilment of delight.
It had to do with the establishment of a whole mystical,
architectural conception which used the human figure as a unit.
Sometimes he had to hurry home,
and go to the Fra Angelico "Last Judgment".
The pathway of open graves,
the huddled earth on either side,
the seemly heaven arranged above,
the singing process to paradise on the one hand,
the stuttering descent to hell on the other,
completed and satisfied him.
He did not care whether or not he believed in devils or angels.
The whole conception gave him the deepest satisfaction,
and he wanted nothing more.
accustomed to these pictures from her childhood,
hunted out their detail.
She adored Fra Angelico's flowers and light and angels,
she liked the demons and enjoyed the hell.
But the representation of the encircled God,
surrounded by all the angels on high,
suddenly bored her.
The figure of the Most High bored her,
and roused her resentment.
Was this the culmination and the meaning of it all,
The angels were so lovely,
and the light so beautiful.
And only for this,
to surround such a banality for God!
She was dissatisfied,
but not fit as yet to criticize.
There was yet so much to wonder over.
pine branches were torn down in the snow,
the green pine needles looked rich upon the ground.
There was the wonderful,
straight track of a pheasant's footsteps across the snow imprinted so clear;
there was the lobbing mark of the rabbit,
two holes abreast,
two holes following behind;
the hare shoved deeper shafts,
and his two hind feet came down together and made one large pit;
the cat podded little holes,
and birds made a lacy pattern.
Gradually there gathered the feeling of expectation.
Christmas was coming.
In the shed,
a secret candle was burning,
a sound of veiled voices was heard.
The boys were learning the old mystery play of St. George and Beelzebub.
Twice a week,
there was choir practice in the church,
for the learning of old carols Brangwen wanted to hear.
The girls went to these practices.
Everywhere was a sense of mystery and rousedness.
Everybody was preparing for something.
The time came near,
the girls were decorating the church,
with cold fingers binding holly and fir and yew about the pillars,
till a new spirit was in the church,
the stone broke out into dark,
the arches put forth their buds,
and cold flowers rose to blossom in the dim,
Ursula must weave mistletoe over the door,
and over the screen,
and hang a silver dove from a sprig of yew,
till dusk came down,
and the church was like a grove.
In the cow-shed the boys were blacking their faces for a dress-rehearsal;
the turkey hung dead,
in the dairy.
The time was come to make pies,
The expectation grew more tense.
The star was risen into the sky,
the carols were ready to hail it.
The star was the sign in the sky.
Earth too should give a sign.
As evening drew on,
hearts beat fast with anticipation,
hands were full of ready gifts.
There were the tremulously expectant words of the church service,
the night was past and the morning was come,
the gifts were given and received,
joy and peace made a flapping of wings in each heart,
there was a great burst of carols,
the Peace of the World had dawned,
strife had passed away,
every hand was linked in hand,
every heart was singing.
It was bitter,
that Christmas Day,
as it drew on to evening,
became a sort of bank holiday,
flat and stale.
The morning was so wonderful,
but in the afternoon and evening the ecstasy perished like a nipped thing,
like a bud in a false spring.
that Christmas was only a domestic feast,
a feast of sweetmeats and toys!
Why did not the grown-ups also change their everyday hearts,
and give way to ecstasy?
Where was the ecstasy?
How passionately the Brangwens craved for it,
The father was troubled,
dark-faced and disconsolate,
on Christmas night,
because the passion was not there,
because the day was become as every day,
and hearts were not aflame.
Upon the mother was a kind of absentness,
as if she were exiled for all her life.
Where was the fiery heart of joy,
now the coming was fulfilled;
where was the star,
the Magi's transport,
the thrill of new being that shook the earth?
Still it was there,
even if it were faint and inadequate.
The cycle of creation still wheeled in the Church year.
the ecstasy slowly sank and changed.
Sunday followed Sunday,
trailing a fine movement,
a finely developed transformation over the heart of the family.
The heart that was big with joy,
that had seen the star and had followed to the inner walls of the Nativity,
that there had swooned in the great light,
must now feel the light slowly withdrawing,
a shadow falling,
The chill crept in,
silence came over the earth,
and then all was darkness.
The veil of the temple was rent,
each heart gave up the ghost,
and sank dead.
They moved quietly,
a little wanness on the lips of the children,
at Good Friday,
feeling the shadow upon their hearts.
pale with a deathly scent,
came the lilies of resurrection,
that shone coldly till the Comforter was given.
But why the memory of the wounds and the death?
Surely Christ rose with healed hands and feet,
sound and strong and glad?
Surely the passage of the cross and the tomb was forgotten?
But no --always the memory of the wounds,
always the smell of grave-clothes?
A small thing was Resurrection,
compared with the Cross and the death,
in this cycle.
So the children lived the year of christianity,
the epic of the soul of mankind.
Year by year the inner,
unknown drama went on in them,
their hearts were born and came to fulness,
suffered on the cross,
gave up the ghost,
and rose again to unnumbered days,
having at least this rhythm of eternity in a ragged,
But it was becoming a mechanical action now,
this drama: birth at Christmas for death at Good Friday.
On Easter Sunday the life-drama was as good as finished.
For the Resurrection was shadowy and overcome by the shadow of death,
the Ascension was scarce noticed,
a mere confirmation of death.
What was the hope and the fulfilment?
was it all only a useless after-death,
and alas for the passion of the human heart,
that must die so long before the body was dead.
For from the grave,
after the passion and the trial of anguish,
the body rose torn and chill and colourless.
Did not Christ say,
and when she turned with outstretched hands to him,
did he not hasten to add,
"Touch me not;
for I am not yet ascended to my father."
Then how could the hands rejoice,
or the heart be glad,
seeing themselves repulsed.
for the resurrection of the dead body!
for the wavering,
glimmering appearance of the risen Christ.
for the Ascension into heaven,
which is a shadow within death,
a complete passing away.
that so soon the drama is over;
that life is ended at thirty-three;
that the half of the year of the soul is cold and historiless!
that a risen Christ has no place with us!
that the memory of the passion of Sorrow and Death and the Grave holds triumph over the pale fact of Resurrection!
Why shall I not rise with my body whole and perfect,
shining with strong life?
when Mary says: Rabboni,
shall I not take her in my arms and kiss her and hold her to my breast?
Why is the risen body deadly,
and abhorrent with wounds?
The Resurrection is to life,
not to death.
Shall I not see those who have risen again walk here among men perfect in body and spirit,
whole and glad in the flesh,
living in the flesh,
loving in the flesh,
begetting children in the flesh,
arrived at last to wholeness,
perfect without scar or blemish,
healthy without fear of ill health?
Is this not the period of manhood and of joy and fulfilment,
after the Resurrection?
Who shall be shadowed by Death and the Cross,
and who shall fear the mystic,
perfect flesh that belongs to heaven?
Can I not,
walk this earth in gladness,
being risen from sorrow?
Can I not eat with my brother happily,
and with joy kiss my beloved,
after my resurrection,
celebrate my marriage in the flesh with feastings,
go about my business eagerly,
in the joy of my fellows?
Is heaven impatient for me,
and bitter against this earth,
that I should hurry off,
or that I should linger pale and untouched?
Is the flesh which was crucified become as poison to the crowds in the street,
or is it as a strong gladness and hope to them,
as the first flower blossoming out of the earth's humus?
As Ursula passed from girlhood towards womanhood,
gradually the cloud of self-responsibility gathered upon her.
She became aware of herself,
that she was a separate entity in the midst of an unseparated obscurity,
that she must go somewhere,
she must become something.
And she was afraid,
oh why must one grow up,
why must one inherit this heavy,
numbing responsibility of living an undiscovered life?
Out of the nothingness and the undifferentiated mass,
to make something of herself!
In the obscurity and pathlessness to take a direction!
How take even one step?
how stand still?
This was torment indeed,
to inherit the responsibility of one's own life.
The religion which had been another world for her,
a glorious sort of play-world,
where she lived,
climbing the tree with the short-statured man,
walking shakily on the sea like the disciple,
breaking the bread into five thousand portions,
like the Lord,
giving a great picnic to five thousand people,
now fell away from reality,
and became a tale,
however much one might assert it to be true an historical fact,
one knew was not true --at least,
for this present --day life of ours.
within the limits of this life we know,
be no Feeding of the Five Thousand.
And the girl had come to the point where she held that that which one cannot experience in daily life is not true for oneself.
the old duality of life,
wherein there had been a weekday world of people and trains and duties and reports,
and besides that a Sunday world of absolute truth and living mystery,
of walking upon the waters and being blinded by the face of the Lord,
of following the pillar of cloud across the desert and watching the bush that crackled yet did not burn away,
unquestioned duality suddenly was found to be broken apart.
The weekday world had triumphed over the Sunday world.
The Sunday world was not real,
or at least,
And one lived by action.
Only the weekday world mattered.
must know how to take the weekday life.
Her body must be a weekday body,
held in the world's estimate.
Her soul must have a weekday value,
known according to the world's knowledge.
there was a weekday life to live,
of action and deeds.
And so there was a necessity to choose one's action and one's deeds.
One was responsible to the world for what one did.
one was more than responsible to the world.
One was responsible to oneself.
There was some puzzling,
tormenting residue of the Sunday world within her,
some persistent Sunday self,
which insisted upon a relationship with the now shed-away vision world.
How could one keep up a relationship with that which one denied?
Her task was now to learn the week-day life.
How to act,
that was the question?
Whither to go,
how to become oneself?
One was not oneself,
one was merely a half-stated question.
How to become oneself,
how to know the question and the answer of oneself,
when one was merely an unfixed something --nothing,
blowing about like the winds of heaven,
She turned to the visions,
which had spoken far-off words that ran along the blood like ripples of an unseen wind,
she heard the words again,
she denied the vision,
for she must be a weekday person,
to whom visions were not true,
and she demanded only the weekday meaning of the words.
There were words spoken by the vision: and words must have a weekday meaning,
since words were weekday stuff.
Let them speak now: let them bespeak themselves in weekday terms.
The vision should translate itself into weekday terms.
"Sell all thou hast,
and give to the poor,"
she heard on Sunday morning.
That was plain enough,
plain enough for Monday morning too.
As she went down the hill to the station,
going to school,
she took the saying with her.
"Sell all thou hast,
and give to the poor."
Did she want to do that?
Did she want to sell her pearl-backed brush and mirror,
her silver candlestick,
her lovely little necklace,
and go dressed in drab like the Wherrys: the unlovely uncombed Wherrys,
who were the "poor" to her?
She did not.
She walked this Monday morning on the verge of misery.
For she did want to do what was right.
And she didn't want to do what the gospels said.
She didn't want to be poor --really poor.
The thought was a horror to her: to live like the Wherrys,
to be at the mercy of everybody.
"Sell that thou hast,
and give to the poor."
One could not do it in real life.
How dreary and hopeless it made her!
Nor could one turn the other cheek.
Theresa slapped Ursula on the face.
in a mood of Christian humility,
silently presented the other side of her face.
in exasperation at the challenge,
with boiling heart,
went meekly away.
writhing shame tortured her,
so she was not easy till she had again quarrelled with Theresa and had almost shaken her sister's head off.
"That'll teach you,"
And she went away,
unchristian but clean.
There was something unclean and degrading about this humble side of Christianity.
Ursula suddenly revolted to the other extreme.
"I hate the Wherrys,
and I wish they were dead.
Why does my father leave us in the lurch like this,
making us be poor and insignificant?
Why is he not more?
If we had a father as he ought to be,
he would be Earl William Brangwen,
and I should be the Lady Ursula?
What right have I to be poor?
crawling along the lane like vermin?
If I had my rights I should be seated on horseback in a green riding-habit,
and my groom would be behind me.
And I should stop at the gates of the cottages,
and enquire of the cottage woman who came out with a child in her arms,
how did her husband,
who had hurt his foot.
And I would pat the flaxen head of the child,
stooping from my horse,
and I would give her a shilling from my purse,
and order nourishing food to be sent from the hall to the cottage."
So she rode in her pride.
she dashed into flames to rescue a forgotten child;
or she dived into the canal locks and supported a boy who was seized with cramp;
or she swept up a toddling infant from the feet of a runaway horse: always imaginatively,
But in the end there returned the poignant yearning from the Sunday world.
As she went down in the morning from Cossethay and saw Ilkeston smoking blue and tender upon its hill,
then her heart surged with far-off words:
Jerusalem --how often would I have gathered thy children together as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings,
and ye would not --"
The passion rose in her for Christ,
for the gathering under the wings of security and warmth.
But how did it apply to the weekday world?
What could it mean,
but that Christ should clasp her to his breast,
as a mother clasps her child?
for him who could hold her to his breast and lose her there.
for the breast of man,
where she should have refuge and bliss for ever!
All her senses quivered with passionate yearning.
Vaguely she knew that Christ meant something else: that in the vision-world He spoke of Jerusalem,
something that did not exist in the everyday world.
It was not houses and factories He would hold in His bosom: nor householders nor factory-workers nor poor people: but something that had no part in the weekday world,
nor seen nor touched with weekday hands and eyes.
Yet she must have it in weekday terms --she must.
For all her life was a weekday life,
this was the whole.
So he must gather her body to his breast,
that was strong with a broad bone,
and which sounded with the beating of the heart,
and which was warm with the life of which she partook,
the life of the running blood.
So she craved for the breast of the Son of Man,
to lie there.
And she was ashamed in her soul,
For whereas Christ spoke for the Vision to answer,
she answered from the weekday fact.
It was a betrayal,
a transference of meaning,
from the vision world,
to the matter-of-fact world.
So she was ashamed of her religious ecstasy,
and dreaded lest any one should see it.
Early in the year,
when the lambs came,
and shelters were built of straw,
and on her uncle's farm the men sat at night with a lantern and a dog,
then again there swept over her this passionate confusion between the vision world and the weekday world.
Again she felt Jesus in the countryside.
he would lift up the lambs in his arms!
and she was the lamb.
in the morning,
going down the lane,
she heard the ewe call,
and the lambs came running,
shaking and twinkling with new-born bliss.
And she saw them stooping,
groping to the udder,
to find the teats,
whilst the mother turned her head gravely and sniffed her own.
And they were sucking,
vibrating with bliss on their little,
their throats stretched up,
their new bodies quivering to the stream of blood-warm,
and the bliss,
She could scarcely tear herself away to go to school.
The little noses nuzzling at the udder,
the little bodies so glad and sure,
the little black legs,
the mother standing still,
yielding herself to their quivering attraction --then the mother walked calmly away.
Jesus --the vision world --the everyday world --all mixed inextricably in a confusion of pain and bliss.
It was almost agony,
speaking to her,
who was non-visionary!
And she would take his words of the spirit and make them to pander to her own carnality.
This was a shame to her.
The confusing of the spirit world with the material world,
in her own soul,
She answered the call of the spirit in terms of immediate,
"Come unto me,
all ye that labour and are heavy-laden,
and I will give you rest."
It was the temporal answer she gave.
She leapt with sensuous yearning to respond to Christ.
If she could go to him really,
and lay her head on his breast,
to have comfort,
to be made much of,
caressed like a child!
All the time she walked in a confused heat of religious yearning.
She wanted Jesus to love her deliciously,
to take her sensuous offering,
to give her sensuous response.
For weeks she went in a muse of enjoyment.
And all the time she knew underneath that she was playing false,
accepting the passion of Jesus for her own physical satisfaction.
But she was in such a daze,
such a tangle.
How could she get free?
She hated herself,
she wanted to trample on herself,
How could one become free?
She hated religion,
because it lent itself to her confusion.
She abused everything.
She wanted to become hard,
brutally callous to everything but just the immediate need,
the immediate satisfaction.
To have a yearning towards Jesus,
only that she might use him to pander to her own soft sensation,
use him as a means of reacting upon herself,
maddened her in the end.
There was then no Jesus,
With all the bitter hatred of helplessness she hated sentimentality.
At this period came the young Skrebensky.
She was nearly sixteen years old,
yet lapsing into unreserved expansiveness now and then,
when she seemed to give away her whole soul,
but when in fact she only made another counterfeit of her soul for outward presentation.
She was sensitive in the extreme,
always affecting a callous indifference to screen herself.
She was at this time a nuisance on the face of the earth,
with her spasmodic passion and her slumberous torment.
She seemed to go with all her soul in her hands,
to the other person.
Yet all the while,
deep at the bottom of her was a childish antagonism of distrust.
She thought she loved everybody and believed in everybody.
But because she could not love herself nor believe in herself,
she mistrusted everybody with the mistrust of a serpent or a captured bird.
Her starts of revulsion and hatred were more inevitable than her impulses of love.
So she wrestled through her dark days of confusion,
as she was studying in the parlour,
her head buried in her hands,
she heard new voices in the kitchen speaking.
from its apathy,
her excitable spirit started and strained to listen.
It seemed to crouch,
to lurk under cover,
glaring forth unwilling to be seen.
There were two strange men's voices,
one soft and candid,
veiled with soft candour,
the other veiled with easy mobility,
Ursula sat quite tense,
shocked out of her studies,
She listened all the time to the sound of the voices,
scarcely heeding the words.
The first speaker was her Uncle Tom.
She knew the naive candour covering the girding and savage misery of his soul.
Who was the other speaker?
Whose voice ran on so easy,
yet with an inflamed pulse?
It seemed to hasten and urge her forward,
that other voice.
"I remember you,"
the young man's voice was saying.
"I remember you from the first time I saw you,
because of your dark eyes and fair face."
Mrs. Brangwen laughed,
shy and pleased.
"You were a curly-headed little lad,"
They were very proud of my curls."
And a laugh ran to silence.
"You were a very well-mannered lad,
said her father.
did I ask you to stay the night?
I always used to ask people to stay the night.
I believe it was rather trying for my mother."
There was a general laugh.
She had to go.
At the click of the latch everybody looked round.
The girl hung in the doorway,
seized with a moment's fierce confusion.
She was going to be good-looking.
Now she had an attractive gawkiness,
as she hung a moment,
not knowing how to carry her shoulders.
Her dark hair was tied behind,
her yellow-brown eyes shone without direction.
in the parlour,
was the soft light of a lamp upon open books.
A superficial readiness took her to her Uncle Tom,
who kissed her,
greeting her with warmth,
making a show of intimate possession of her,
and at the same time leaving evident his own complete detachment.
But she wanted to turn to the stranger.
He was standing back a little,
He was a young man with very clear greyish eyes that waited until they were called upon,
before they took expression.
Something in his self-possessed waiting moved her,
and she broke into a confused,
rather beautiful laugh as she gave him her hand,
catching her breath like an excited child.
His hand closed over hers very close,
and his eyes were watching her with some attention.
She felt proud --her spirit leapt to life.
"You don't know Mr. Skrebensky,
came her Uncle Tom's intimate voice.
She lifted her face with an impulsive flash to the stranger,
as if to declare a knowledge,
laughing her palpitating,
His eyes became confused with roused lights,
his detached attention changed to a readiness for her.
He was a young man of twenty-one,
with a slender figure and soft brown hair brushed up on the German fashion straight from his brow.
"Are you staying long?"
"I've got a month's leave,"
glancing at Tom Brangwen.
"But I've various places I must go to --put in some time here and there."
He brought her a strong sense of the outer world.
It was as if she were set on a hill and could feel vaguely the whole world lying spread before her.
"What have you a month's leave from?"
"I'm in the Engineers --in the Army."
"We're taking you away from your studies,"
said her Uncle Tom.
she replied quickly.
young and inflammable.
"She won't wait to be taken away,"
said her father.
But that seemed clumsy.
She wished he would leave her to say her own things.
"Don't you like study?"
turning to her,
putting the question from his own case.
"I like some things,"
"I like Latin and French --and grammar."
He watched her,
and all his being seemed attentive to her,
then he shook his head.
"They say all the brains of the army are in the Engineers.
I think that's why I joined them --to get the credit of other people's brains."
He said this quizzically and with chagrin.
And she became alert to him.
It interested her.
Whether he had brains or not,
he was interesting.
His directness attracted her,
his independent motion.
She was aware of the movement of his life over against hers.
"I don't think brains matter,"
"What does matter then?"
came her Uncle Tom's intimate,
She turned to him.
"It matters whether people have courage or not,"
"Courage for what?"
asked her uncle.
Tom Brangwen gave a sharp little laugh.
The mother and father sat silent,
with listening faces.
She was speaking for him.
laughed her uncle.
She disliked him at that moment.
"She doesn't practice what she preaches,"
said her father,
stirring in his chair and crossing one leg over the other.
"She has courage for mighty little."
But she would not answer.
Skrebensky sat still,
His face was irregular,
with a rather thick nose.
But his eyes were pellucid,
his brown hair was soft and thick as silk,
he had a slight moustache.
His skin was fine,
his figure slight,
her Uncle Tom looked full-blown,
her father seemed uncouth.
Yet he reminded her of her father,
only he was finer,
and he seemed to be shining.
And his face was almost ugly.
He seemed simply acquiescent in the fact of his own being,
as if he were beyond any change or question.
He was himself.
There was a sense of fatality about him that fascinated her.
He made no effort to prove himself to other people.
Let it be accepted for what it was,
his own being.
In its isolation it made no excuse or explanation for itself.
So he seemed perfectly,
even fatally established,
he did not asked to be rendered before he could exist,
before he could have relationship with another person.
This attracted Ursula very much.
She was so used to unsure people who took on a new being with every new influence.
Her Uncle Tom was always more or less what the other person would have him.
one never knew the real Uncle Tom,
only a fluid,
unsatisfactory flux with a more or less consistent appearance.
let Skrebensky do what he would,
betray himself entirely,
he betrayed himself always upon his own responsibility.
He permitted no question about himself.
He was irrevocable in his isolation.
So Ursula thought him wonderful,
he was so finely constituted,
and so distinct,
she said to herself,
was a gentleman,
he had a nature like fate,
the nature of an aristocrat.
She laid hold of him at once for her dreams.
Here was one such as those Sons of God who saw the daughters of men,
that they were fair.
He was no son of Adam.
Adam was servile.
Had not Adam been driven cringing out of his native place,
had not the human race been a beggar ever since,
seeking its own being?
But Anton Skrebensky could not beg.
He was in possession of himself,
and no more.
Other people could not really give him anything nor take anything from him.
His soul stood alone.
She knew that her mother and father acknowledged him.
The house was changed.
There had been a visit paid to the house.
Once three angels stood in Abraham's doorway,
and greeted him,
and stayed and ate with him,
leaving his household enriched for ever when they went.
The next day she went down to the Marsh according to invitation.
The two men were not come home.
looking through the window,
she saw the dogcart drive up,
and Skrebensky leapt down.
She saw him draw himself together,
laugh to her uncle,
who was driving,
then come towards her to the house.
He was so spontaneous and revealed in his movements.
He was isolated within his own clear,
and as still as if fated.
His resting in his own fate gave him an appearance of indolence,
almost of languor: he made no exuberant movement.
When he sat down,
he seemed to go loose,
"We are a little late,"
"Where have you been?"
"We went to Derby to see a friend of my father's."
It was an adventure to her to put direct questions and get plain answers.
She knew she might do it with this man.
he is a clergyman too --he is my guardian --one of them."
Ursula knew that Skrebensky was an orphan.
"Where is really your home now?"
I am very fond of my colonel --Colonel Hepburn: then there are my aunts: but my real home,
is the army."
"Do you like being on your own?"
greenish-grey eyes rested on her a moment,
as he considered,
he did not see her.
"I suppose so,"
"You see my father --well,
he was never acclimatized here.
He wanted --I don't know what he wanted --but it was a strain.
And my mother --I always knew she was too good to me.
I could feel her being too good to me --my mother!
Then I went away to school so early.
And I must say,
the outside world was always more naturally a home to me than the vicarage --I don't know why."
"Do you feel like a bird blown out of its own latitude?"
using a phrase she had met.
I find everything very much as I like it."
He seemed more and more to give her a sense of the vast world,
a sense of distances and large masses of humanity.
It drew her as a scent draws a bee from afar.
But also it hurt her.
It was summer,
and she wore cotton frocks.
The third time he saw her she had on a dress with fine blue-and-white stripes,
with a white collar,
and a large white hat.
It suited her golden,
"I like you best in that dress,"
standing with his head slightly on one side,
and appreciating her in a perceiving,
She was thrilled with a new life.
For the first time she was in love with a vision of herself: she saw as it were a fine little reflection of herself in his eyes.
And she must act up to this: she must be beautiful.
Her thoughts turned swiftly to clothes,
her passion was to make a beautiful appearance.
Her family looked on in amazement at the sudden transformation of Ursula.
She became elegant,
in figured cotton frocks she made for herself,
and hats she bent to her fancy.
An inspiration was upon her.
He sat with a sort of languor in her grandmother's rocking chair,
backward and forward,
as Ursula talked to him.
"You are not poor,
"Poor in money?
I have about a hundred and fifty a year of my own --so I am poor or rich,
as you like.
I am poor enough,
"But you will earn money?"
"I shall have my pay --I have my pay now.
I've got my commission.
That is another hundred and fifty."
"You will have more,
"I shan't have more than 200 pounds a year for ten years to come.
I shall always be poor,
if I have to live on my pay."
"Do you mind it?"
Not now --not very much.
I may later.
People --the officers,
are good to me.
Colonel Hepburn has a sort of fancy for me --he is a rich man,
A chill went over Ursula.
Was he going to sell himself in some way?
"Is Colonel Hepburn married?"
"Yes --with two daughters."
But she was too proud at once to care whether Colonel Hepburn's daughter wanted to marry him or not.
There came a silence.
and Skrebensky still rocked languidly on the chair.
"You look very lazy,"
"I am lazy,"
"You look really floppy,"
"I am floppy,"
"Can't you stop?"
"No --it's the perpetuum mobile."
"You look as if you hadn't a bone in your body."
"That's how I like to feel."
"I don't admire your taste."
"That's my misfortune."
And he rocked on.
Gudrun seated herself behind him,
and as he rocked back,
she caught his hair between her finger and thumb,
so that it tugged him as he swung forward again.
He took no notice.
There was only the sound of the rockers on the floor.
like a crab,
Gudrun caught a strand of his hair each time he rocked back.
and sat in some pain.
She saw the irritation gathering on his brow.
At last he leapt up,
like a steel spring going off,
and stood on the hearthrug.
why can't I rock?"
he asked petulantly,
Ursula loved him for his sudden,
steel-like start out of the languor.
He stood on the hearthrug fuming,
his eyes gleaming with anger.
Gudrun laughed in her deep,
"Men don't rock themselves,"
"Girls don't pull men's hair,"
Gudrun laughed again.
Ursula sat amused,
And he knew Ursula was waiting for him.
It roused his blood.
He had to go to her,
to follow her call.
Once he drove her to Derby in the dog-cart.
He belonged to the horsey set of the sappers.
They had lunch in an inn,
and went through the market,
pleased with everything.
He bought her a copy of Wuthering Heights from a bookstall.
Then they found a little fair in progress and she said:
"My father used to take me in the swingboats."
"Did you like it?"
it was fine,"
"Would you like to go now?"
though she was afraid.
But the prospect of doing an unusual,
exciting thing was attractive to her.
He went straight to the stand,
paid the money,
and helped her to mount.
He seemed to ignore everything but just what he was doing.
Other people were mere objects of indifference to him.
She would have liked to hang back,
but she was more ashamed to retreat from him than to expose herself to the crowd or to dare the swingboat.
His eyes laughed,
and standing before her with his sharp,
he set the boat swinging.
She was not afraid,
she was thrilled.
His colour flushed,
his eyes shone with a roused light,
and she looked up at him,
her face like a flower in the sun,
so bright and attractive.
So they rushed through the bright air,
up at the sky as if flung from a catapult,
then falling terribly back.
She loved it.
The motion seemed to fan their blood to fire,
feeling the flames.
After the swingboats,
they went on the roundabouts to calm down,
he twisting astride on his jerky wooden steed towards her,
and always seeming at his ease,
A zest of antagonism to the convention made him fully himself.
As they sat on the whirling carousal,
with the music grinding out,
she was aware of the people on the earth outside,
and it seemed that he and she were riding carelessly over the faces of the crowd,
riding for ever buoyantly,
gallantly over the upturned faces of the crowd,
moving on a high level,
spurning the common mass.
When they must descend and walk away,
she was unhappy,
feeling like a giant suddenly cut down to ordinary level,
at the mercy of the mob.
They left the fair,
to return for the dog-cart.
Passing the large church,
Ursula must look in.
But the whole interior was filled with scaffolding,
fallen stone and rubbish were heaped on the floor,
bits of plaster crunched underfoot,
and the place re-echoed to the calling of secular voices and to blows of the hammer.
She had come to plunge in the utter gloom and peace for a moment,
bringing all her yearning,
that had returned on her uncontrolled after the reckless riding over the face of the crowd,
in the fair.
she wanted comfort,
for pride and scorn seemed to hurt her most of all.
And she found the immemorial gloom full of bits of falling plaster,
and dust of floating plaster,
smelling of old lime,
having scaffolding and rubbish heaped about,
dust cloths over the altar.
"Let us sit down a minute,"
They sat unnoticed in the back pew,
in the gloom,
and she watched the dirty,
disorderly work of bricklayers and plasterers.
Workmen in heavy boots walking grinding down the aisles,
calling out in a vulgar accent:
has them corner mouldin's come?"
There were shouts of coarse answer from the roof of the church.
The place echoed desolate.
Skrebensky sat close to her.
Everything seemed wonderful,
if dreadful to her,
the world tumbling into ruins,
and she and he clambering unhurt,
lawless over the face of it all.
He sat close to her,
and she was aware of his influence upon her.
But she was glad.
It excited her to feel the press of him upon her,
as if his being were urging her to something.
As they drove home,
he sat near to her.
And when he swayed to the cart,
he swayed in a voluptuous,
lingering as he swung away to recover balance.
he took her hand across,
under the wrap,
and with his unseeing face lifted to the road,
his soul intent,
he began with his one hand to unfasten the buttons of her glove,
to push back her glove from her hand,
carefully laying bare her hand.
And the close-working,
instinctive subtlety of his fingers upon her hand sent the young girl mad with voluptuous delight.
His hand was so wonderful,
intent as a living creature skilfully pushing and manipulating in the dark underworld,
removing her glove and laying bare her palm,
Then his hand closed over hers,
as if the flesh knitted to one thing his hand and hers.
Meanwhile his face watched the road and the ears of the horse,
he drove with steady attention through the villages,
and she sat beside him,
blinded with a new light.
Neither of them spoke.
In outward attention they were entirely separate.
But between them was the compact of his flesh with hers,
in the hand-clasp.
in a strange voice,
affecting nonchalance and superficiality he said to her:
"Sitting in the church there reminded me of Ingram."
"Who is Ingram?"
She also affected calm superficiality.
But she knew that something forbidden was coming.
"He is one of the other men with me down at Chatham --a subaltern --but a year older than I am."
"And why did the church remind you of him?"
he had a girl in Rochester,
and they always sat in a particular corner in the cathedral for their love-making."
They misunderstood each other.
"It had its disadvantages though.
The verger made a row about it."
"What a shame!
Why shouldn't they sit in a cathedral?"
"I suppose they all think it a profanity --except you and Ingram and the girl."
"I don't think it a profanity --I think it's right,
to make love in a cathedral."
She said this almost defiantly,
in despite of her own soul.
He was silent.
"And was she nice?"
she was rather nice.
She was a milliner,
and she wouldn't be seen in the streets with Ingram.
It was rather sad,
because the verger spied on them,
and got to know their names and then made a regular row.
It was a common tale afterwards."
"What did she do?"
"She went to London,
into a big shop.
Ingram still goes up to see her."
"Does he love her?"
"It's a year and a half he's been with her now."
"What was she like?"
shy-violet sort of girl with nice eyebrows."
Ursula meditated this.
It seemed like real romance of the outer world.
"Do all men have lovers?"
amazed at her own temerity.
But her hand was still fastened with his,
and his face still had the same unchanging fixity of outward calm.
"They're always mentioning some amazing fine woman or other,
and getting drunk to talk about her.
Most of them dash up to London the moment they are free."
"To some amazing fine woman or other."
"What sort of woman?"
Her name changes pretty frequently,
as a rule.
One of the fellows is a perfect maniac.
He keeps a suit-case always ready,
and the instant he is at liberty,
he bolts with it to the station,
and changes in the train.
No matter who is in the carriage,
off he whips his tunic,
and performs at least the top half of his toilet."
Ursula quivered and wondered.
"Why is he in such a hurry?"
Her throat was becoming hard and difficult.
"He's got a woman in his mind,
She was chilled,
And yet this world of passions and lawlessness was fascinating to her.
It seemed to her a splendid recklessness.
Her adventure in life was beginning.
It seemed very splendid.
That evening she stayed at the Marsh till after dark,
and Skrebensky escorted her home.
For she could not go away from him.
And she was waiting,
waiting for something more.
In the warm of the early night,
with the shadows new about them,
she felt in another,
less personal world.
Now a new state should come to pass.
He walked near to her,
and with the same,
intent approach put his arm round her waist,
drew her to him,
till his arm was hard and pressed in upon her;
she seemed to be carried along,
her feet scarce touching the ground,
borne upon the firm,
moving surface of his body,
upon whose side she seemed to lie,
in a delicious swoon of motion.
And whilst she swooned,
his face bent nearer to her,
her head was leaned on his shoulder,
she felt his warm breath on her face.
so softly that she seemed to faint away,
his lips touched her cheek,
and she drifted through strands of heat and darkness.
Still she waited,
in her swoon and her drifting,
like the Sleeping Beauty in the story.
and again his face was bent to hers,
his lips came warm to her face,
their footsteps lingered and ceased,
they stood still under the trees,
whilst his lips waited on her face,
waited like a butterfly that does not move on a flower.
She pressed her breast a little nearer to him,
put both his arms round her,
and drew her close.
in the darkness,
he bent to her mouth,
and touched her mouth with his mouth.
She was afraid,
she lay still on his arm,
feeling his lips on her lips.
She kept still,
Then his mouth drew near,
pressing open her mouth,
drenching surge rose within her,
she opened her lips to him,
poignant eddies she drew him nearer,
she let him come farther,
his lips came and surging,
like the powerful surge of water,
till with a little blind cry,
she broke away.
She heard him breathing heavily,
A terrible and magnificent sense of his strangeness possessed her.
But she shrank a little now,
they continued to walk on,
quivering like shadows under the ash trees of the hill,
where her grandfather had walked with his daffodils to make his proposal,
and where her mother had gone with her young husband,
walking close upon him as Ursula was now walking upon Skrebensky.
Ursula was aware of the dark limbs of the trees stretching overhead,
clothed with leaves,
and of fine ash leaves tressing the summer night.
They walked with their bodies moving in complex unity,
He held her hand,
and they went the long way round by the road,
to be farther.
Always she felt as if she were supported off her feet,
as if her feet were light as little breezes in motion.
He would kiss her again --but not again that night with the same deep --reaching kiss.
She was aware now,
aware of what a kiss might be.
it was more difficult to come to him.
She went to bed feeling all warm with electric warmth,
as if the gush of dawn were within her,
And she slept deeply,
In the morning she felt sound as an ear of wheat,
fragrant and firm and full.
They continued to be lovers,
in the first wondering state of unrealization.
Ursula told nobody;
she was entirely lost in her own world.
Yet some strange affectation made her seek for a spurious confidence.
She had at school a quiet,
serious-souled friend called Ethel,
and to Ethel must Ursula confide the story.
Ethel listened absorbedly,
whilst Ursula told her secret.
it was so lovely,
delicate way of making love!
Ursula talked like a practiced lover.
"Do you think,"
"it is wicked to let a man kiss you --real kisses,
"I should think,"
"He kissed me under the ash trees on Cossethay hill --do you think it was wrong?"
"On Thursday night when he was seeing me home --but real kisses --real --.
He is an officer in the army."
"What time was it?"
asked the deliberate Ethel.
"I don't know --about half-past nine."
There was a pause.
"I think it's wrong,"
lifting her head with impatience.
"You don't know him."
She spoke with some contempt.
He is half a Pole,
and a Baron too.
In England he is equivalent to a Lord.
My grandmother was his father's friend."
But the two friends were hostile.
It was as if Ursula wanted to divide herself from her acquaintances,
in asserting her connection with Anton,
as she now called him.
He came a good deal to Cossethay,
because her mother was fond of him.
Anna Brangwen became something of a grande dame with Skrebensky,
taking things for granted.
"Aren't the children in bed?"
cried Ursula petulantly,
as she came in with the young man.
"They will be in bed in half an hour,"
said the mother.
"There is no peace,"
"The children must live,
said her mother.
And Skrebensky was against Ursula in this.
Why should she be so insistent?
as Ursula knew,
he did not have the perpetual tyranny of young children about him.
He treated her mother with great courtliness,
to which Mrs. Brangwen returned an easy,
Something pleased the girl in her mother's calm assumption of state.
It seemed impossible to abate Mrs. Brangwen's position.
She could never be beneath anyone in public relation.
Between Brangwen and Skrebensky there was an unbridgeable silence.
Sometimes the two men made a slight conversation,
but there was no interchange.
Ursula rejoiced to see her father retreating into himself against the young man.
She was proud of Skrebensky in the house.
languorous indifference irritated her and yet cast a spell over her.
She knew it was the outcome of a spirit of laissez-aller combined with profound young vitality.
Yet it irritated her deeply.
she was proud of him as he lounged in his lambent fashion in her home,
he was so attentive and courteous to her mother and to herself all the time.
It was wonderful to have his awareness in the room.
She felt rich and augmented by it,
as if she were the positive attraction and he the flow towards her.
And his courtesy and his agreement might be all her mother's,
but the lambent flicker of his body was for herself.
She held it.
She must ever prove her power.
"I meant to show you my little wood-carving,"
"I'm sure it's not worth showing,
said her father.
"Would you like to see it?"
leaning towards the door.
And his body had risen from the chair,
though his face seemed to want to agree with her parents.
"It is in the shed,"
And he followed her out of the door,
whatever his feelings might be.
In the shed they played at kisses,
really played at kisses.
It was a delicious,
She turned to him,
her face all laughing,
like a challenge.
And he accepted the challenge at once.
He twined his hand full of her hair,
with his hand wrapped round with hair behind her head,
gradually brought her face nearer to his,
whilst she laughed breathless with challenge,
and his eyes gleamed with answer,
with enjoyment of the game.
And he kissed her,
asserting his will over her,
and she kissed him back,
asserting her deliberate enjoyment of him.
Daring and reckless and dangerous they knew it was,
each playing with fire,
not with love.
A sort of defiance of all the world possessed her in it --she would kiss him just because she wanted to.
And a dare-devilry in him,
like a cynicism,
a cut at everything he pretended to serve,
retaliated in him.
She was very beautiful then,
so wide opened,
exquisitely vulnerable and poignantly,
throwing herself to risk.
It roused a sort of madness in him.
Like a flower shaking and wide-opened in the sun,
she tempted him and challenged him,
and he accepted the challenge,
something went fixed in him.
And under all her laughing,
poignant recklessness was the quiver of tears.
That almost sent him mad,
mad with desire,
whose only issue was through possession of her body.
they went back to her parents in the kitchen,
But something was roused in both of them that they could not now allay.
It intensified and heightened their senses,
they were more vivid,
and powerful in their being.
But under it all was a poignant sense of transience.
It was a magnificent self-assertion on the part of both of them,
he asserted himself before her,
he felt himself infinitely male and infinitely irresistible,
she asserted herself before him,
she knew herself infinitely desirable,
and hence infinitely strong.
And after all,
what could either of them get from such a passion but a sense of his or of her own maximum self,
in contradistinction to all the rest of life?
Wherein was something finite and sad,
for the human soul at its maximum wants a sense of the infinite.
it was begun now,
and must go on,
the passion of Ursula to know her own maximum self,
limited and so defined against him.
She could limit and define herself against him,
she could be her maximum self,
triumphant for one moment in exquisite assertion against the male,
in supreme contradistinction to the male.
The next afternoon,
when he came,
she went with him across to the church.
Her father was gradually gathering in anger against him,
her mother was hardening in anger against her.
But the parents were naturally tolerant in action.
They went together across the churchyard,
Ursula and Skrebensky,
and ran to hiding in the church.
It was dimmer in there than the sunny afternoon outside,
but the mellow glow among the bowed stone was very sweet.
The windows burned in ruby and in blue,
they made magnificent arras to their bower of secret stone.
"What a perfect place for a rendezvous,"
in a hushed voice,
She too glanced round the familiar interior.
The dimness and stillness chilled her.
But her eyes lit up with daring.
here she would assert her indomitable gorgeous female self,
Here she would open her female flower like a flame,
in this dimness that was more passionate than light.
They hung apart a moment,
then wilfully turned to each other for the desired contact.
She put her arms round him,
she cleaved her body to his,
and with her hands pressed upon his shoulders,
on his back,
she seemed to feel right through him,
to know his young,
tense body right through.
And it was so fine,
yet so exquisitely subject and under her control.
She reached him her mouth and drank his full kiss,
drank it fuller and fuller.
And it was so good,
it was very,
She seemed to be filled with his kiss,
filled as if she had drunk strong,
She glowed all inside,
the sunshine seemed to beat upon her heart underneath,
she had drunk so beautifully.
She drew away,
and looked at him radiant,
but radiant as an illumined cloud.
To him this was bitter,
that she was so radiant and satisfied.
She laughed upon him,
blind to him,
so full of her own bliss,
never doubting but that he was the same as she was.
And radiant as an angel she went with him out of the church,
as if her feet were beams of light that walked on flowers for footsteps.
He went beside her,
his soul clenched,
his body unsatisfied.
Was she going to make this easy triumph over him?
there was now no self-bliss,
only pain and confused anger.
It was high summer,
and the hay-harvest was almost over.
It would be finished on Saturday.
Skrebensky was going away.
He could not stay any longer.
Having decided to go he became very tender and loving to her,
kissing her gently,
with such soft,
insidious closeness that they were both of them intoxicated.
The very last Friday of his stay he met her coming out of school,
and took her to tea in the town.
Then he had a motor-car to drive her home.
Her excitement at riding in a motor-car was greatest of all.
He too was very proud of this last coup.
He saw Ursula kindle and flare up to the romance of the situation.
She raised her head like a young horse snuffing with wild delight.
The car swerved round a corner,
and Ursula was swung against Skrebensky.
The contact made her aware of him.
With a swift,
foraging impulse she sought for his hand and clasped it in her own,
as if they were two children.
The wind blew in on Ursula's face,
the mud flew in a soft,
wild rush from the wheels,
the country was blackish green,
with the silver of new hay here and there,
and masses of trees under a silver-gleaming sky.
Her hand tightened on his with a new consciousness,
They did not speak for some time,
And every now and then the car swung her against him.
And they waited for the motion to bring them together.
Yet they stared out of the windows,
She saw the familiar country racing by.
it was no familiar country,
it was wonderland.
There was the Hemlock Stone standing on its grassy hill.
Strange it looked on this wet,
early summer evening,
in a magic land.
Some rooks were flying out of the trees.
if only she and Skrebensky could get out,
dismount into this enchanted land where nobody had ever been before!
Then they would be enchanted people,
they would put off the dull,
If she were wandering there,
on that hill-slope under a silvery,
in which many rooks melted like hurrying showers of blots!
If they could walk past the wetted hay-swaths,
smelling the early evening,
and pass in to the wood where the honeysuckle scent was sweet on the cold tang in the air,
and showers of drops fell when one brushed a bough,
cold and lovely on the face!
But she was here with him in the car,
close to him,
and the wind was rushing on her lifted,
blowing back the hair.
He turned and looked at her,
at her face clean as a chiselled thing,
her hair chiselled back by the wind,
her fine nose keen and lifted.
It was agony to him,
seeing her swift and clean-cut and virgin.
He wanted to kill himself,
and throw his detested carcase at her feet.
His desire to turn round on himself and rend himself was an agony to him.
Suddenly she glanced at him.
He seemed to be crouching towards her,
he seemed to wince between the brows.
seeing her lighted eyes and radiant face,
his expression changed,
his old reckless laugh shone to her.
She pressed his hand in utter delight,
and he abided.
And suddenly she stooped and kissed his hand,
bent her head and caught it to her mouth,
in generous homage.
And the blood burned in him.
Yet he remained still,
he made no move.
They were swinging into Cossethay.
Skrebensky was going to leave her.
But it was all so magic,
her cup was so full of bright wine,
her eyes could only shine.
He tapped and spoke to the man.
The car swung up by the yew trees.
She gave him her hand and said good-bye,
naive and brief as a schoolgirl.
And she stood watching him go,
her face shining.
The fact of his driving on meant nothing to her,
she was so filled by her own bright ecstacy.
She did not see him go,
for she was filled with light,
which was of him.
Bright with an amazing light as she was,
how could she miss him.
In her bedroom she threw her arms in the air in clear pain of magnificence.
it was her transfiguration,
she was beyond herself.
She wanted to fling herself into all the hidden brightness of the air.
It was there,
it was there,
if she could but meet it.
But the next day she knew he had gone.
Her glory had partly died down --but never from her memory.
It was too real.
Yet it was gone by,
leaving a wistfulness.
A deeper yearning came into her soul,
a new reserve.
She shrank from touch and question.
She was very proud,
but very new,
and very sensitive.
that no one should lay hands on her!
She was happier running on by herself.
it was a joy to run along the lanes without seeing things,
yet being with them.
It was such a joy to be alone with all one's riches.
The holidays came,
when she was free.
She spent most of her time running on by herself,
curled up in a squirrel-place in the garden,
lying in a hammock in the coppice,
while the birds came near --near --so near.
in rainy weather,
she flitted to the Marsh,
and lay hidden with her book in a hay-loft.
All the time,
she dreamed of him,
but when she was happiest,
He was the warm colouring of her dreams,
he was the hot blood beating within them.
When she was less happy,
out of sorts,
she pondered over his appearance,
the buttons with his regimental badge,
which he had given her.
Or she tried to imagine his life in barracks.
Or she conjured up a vision of herself as she appeared in his eyes.
His birthday was in August,
and she spent some pains on making him a cake.
She felt that it would not be in good taste for her to give him a present.
Their correspondence was brief,
mostly an exchange of post-cards,
not at all frequent.
But with her cake she must send him a letter.
The sunshine has come back specially for your birthday,
I made the cake myself,
and wish you many happy returns of the day.
Don't eat it if it is not good.
Mother hopes you will come and see us when you are near enough.
"Your Sincere Friend,
It bored her to write a letter even to him.
writing words on paper had nothing to do with him and her.
The fine weather had set in,
the cutting machine went on from dawn till sunset,
chattering round the fields.
She heard from Skrebensky;
he too was on duty in the country,
on Salisbury Plain.
He was now a second lieutenant in a Field Troop.
He would have a few days off shortly,
and would come to the Marsh for the wedding.
Fred Brangwen was going to marry a schoolmistress out of Ilkeston as soon as corn-harvest was at an end.
The dim blue-and-gold of a hot,
sweet autumn saw the close of the corn-harvest.
it was as if the world had opened its softest purest flower,
its chicory flower,
its meadow saffron.
The sky was blue and sweet,
the yellow leaves down the lane seemed like free,
wandering flowers as they chittered round the feet,
making a keen,
almost unbearable music to her heart.
And the scents of autumn were like a summer madness to her.
She fled away from the little,
purple-red button-chrysanthemums like a frightened dryad,
the bright yellow little chrysanthemums smelled so strong,
her feet seemed to dither in a drunken dance.
Then her Uncle Tom appeared,
always like the cynical Bacchus in the picture.
He would have a jolly wedding,
a harvest supper and a wedding feast in one: a tent in the home close,
and a band for dancing,
and a great feast out of doors.
but Tom must be satisfied.
she also must have a great and jolly feast.
It appealed to her educated sense.
She had been to Salisbury Training College,
knew folk-songs and morris-dancing.
So the preparations were begun,
directed by Tom Brangwen.
A marquee was set up on the home close,
two large bonfires were prepared.
Musicians were hired,
feast made ready.
Skrebensky was to come,
arriving in the morning.
Ursula had a new white dress of soft crepe,
and a white hat.
She liked to wear white.
With her black hair and clear golden skin,
she looked southern,
or rather tropical,
like a Creole.
She wore no colour whatsoever.
She trembled that day as she appeared to go down to the wedding.
She was to be a bridesmaid.
Skrebensky would not arrive till afternoon.
The wedding was at two o'clock.
As the wedding-party returned home,
Skrebensky stood in the parlour at the Marsh.
Through the window he saw Tom Brangwen,
who was best man,
coming up the garden path most elegant in cut-away coat and white slip and spats,
with Ursula laughing on his arm.
Tom Brangwen was handsome,
with his womanish colouring and dark eyes and black close-cut moustache.
But there was something subtly coarse and suggestive about him for all his beauty;
bestial nostrils opened so hard and wide,
and his well-shaped head almost disquieting in its nakedness,
rather bald from the front,
and all its soft fulness betrayed.
Skrebensky saw the man rather than the woman.
She saw only the slender,
unchangeable youth waiting there inscrutable,
like her fate.
He was beyond her,
with his loose,
slightly horsey appearance,
that made him seem very manly and foreign.
Yet his face was smooth and soft and impressionable.
She shook hands with him,
and her voice was like the rousing of a bird startled by the dawn.
"Isn't it nice,"
"to have a wedding?"
There were bits of coloured confetti lodged on her dark hair.
Again the confusion came over him,
as if he were losing himself and becoming all vague,
Yet he wanted to be hard,
And he followed her.
There was a light tea,
and the guests scattered.
The real feast was for the evening.
Ursula walked out with Skrebensky through the stackyard to the fields,
and up the embankment to the canal-side.
The new corn-stacks were big and golden as they went by,
an army of white geese marched aside in braggart protest.
Ursula was light as a white ball of down.
Skrebensky drifted beside her,
his old from loosened,
and another self,
drifting out as from a bud.
They talked lightly,
The blue way of the canal wound softly between the autumn hedges,
on towards the greenness of a small hill.
On the left was the whole black agitation of colliery and railway and the town which rose on its hill,
the church tower topping all.
The round white dot of the clock on the tower was distinct in the evening light.
was the way to London,
through the grim,
alluring seethe of the town.
On the other hand was the evening,
mellow over the green water-meadows and the winding alder trees beside the river,
and the pale stretches of stubble beyond.
There the evening glowed softly,
and even a pee-wit was flapping in solitude and peace.
Ursula and Anton Skrebensky walked along the ridge of the canal between.
The berries on the hedges were crimson and bright red,
above the leaves.
The glow of evening and the wheeling of the solitary pee-wit and the faint cry of the birds came to meet the shuffling noise of the pits,
fuming stress of the town opposite,
and they two walked the blue strip of water-way,
the ribbon of sky between.
He was looking,
because of a flush of sunburn on his hands and face.
He was telling her how he had learned to shoe horses and select cattle fit for killing.
"Do you like to be a soldier?"
"I am not exactly a soldier,"
"But you only do things for wars,"
"Would you like to go to war?"
it would be exciting.
If there were a war I would want to go."
distracted feeling came over her,
a sense of potent unrealities.
"Why would you want to go?"
"I should be doing something,
it would be genuine.
It's a sort of toy-life as it is."
"But what would you be doing if you went to war?"
"I would be making railways or bridges,
working like a nigger."
"But you'd only make them to be pulled down again when the armies had done with them.
It seems just as much a game."
"If you call war a game."
"What is it?"
"It's about the most serious business there is,
A sense of hard separateness came over her.
"Why is fighting more serious than anything else?"
"You either kill or get killed --and I suppose it is serious enough,
"But when you're dead you don't matter any more,"
He was silenced for a moment.
"But the result matters,"
"It matters whether we settle the Mahdi or not."
"Not to you --nor me --we don't care about Khartoum."
"You want to have room to live in: and somebody has to make room."
"But I don't want to live in the desert of Sahara --do you?"
laughing with antagonism.
"I don't --but we've got to back up those who do.
"Why have we?"
"Where is the nation if we don't?"
"But we aren't the nation.
There are heaps of other people who are the nation."
"They might say they weren't either."
if everybody said it,
there wouldn't be a nation.
But I should still be myself,"
she asserted brilliantly.
"You wouldn't be yourself if there were no nation."
"Because you'd just be a prey to everybody and anybody."
"How a prey?"
"They'd come and take everything you'd got."
they couldn't take much even then.
I don't care what they take.
I'd rather have a robber who carried me off than a millionaire who gave me everything you can buy."
"That's because you are a romanticist."
I want to be romantic.
I hate houses that never go away,
and people just living in the houses.
It's all so stiff and stupid.
I hate soldiers,
they are stiff and wooden.
What do you fight for,
"I would fight for the nation."
"For all that,
you aren't the nation.
What would you do for yourself?"
"I belong to the nation and must do my duty by the nation."
"But when it didn't need your services in particular --when there is no fighting?
What would you do then?"
He was irritated.
"I would do what everybody else does."
I would be in readiness for when I was needed."
The answer came in exasperation.
"It seems to me,"
"as if you weren't anybody --as if there weren't anybody there,
where you are.
Are you anybody,
You seem like nothing to me."
They had walked till they had reached a wharf,
just above a lock.
There an empty barge,
painted with a red and yellow cabin hood,
but with a long,
was lying moored.
lean and grimy,
was sitting on a box against the cabin-side by the door,
and nursing a baby that was wrapped in a drab shawl,
and looking into the glow of evening.
A woman bustled out,
sent a pail dashing into the canal,
drew her water,
and bustled in again.
Children's voices were heard.
A thin blue smoke ascended from the cabin chimney,
there was a smell of cooking.
white as a moth,
lingered to look.
Skrebensky lingered by her.
The man glanced up.
He had blue eyes which glanced impudently from his grimy face.
"Isn't it nice now?"
said the man,
His mouth was red under his ragged,
His teeth were white as he laughed.
but --" stammered Ursula,
Why do you say it as if it weren't?"
"'Appen for them as is childt-nursin' it's none so rosy."
"May I look inside your barge?"
"There's nobody'll stop you;
you come if you like."
The barge lay at the opposite bank,
at the wharf.
It was the Annabel,
belonging to J. Ruth of Loughborough.
The man watched Ursula closely from his keen,
His fair hair was wispy on his grimed forehead.
Two dirty children appeared to see who was talking.
Ursula glanced at the great lock gates.
They were shut,
and the water was sounding,
spurting and trickling down in the gloom beyond.
On this side the bright water was almost to the top of the gate.
She went boldly across,
and round to the wharf.
Stooping from the bank,
she peeped into the cabin,
where was a red glow of fire and the shadowy figure of a woman.
She did want to go down.
"You'll mess your frock,"
said the man,
"I'll be careful,"
"May I come?"
come if you like."
She gathered her skirts,
lowered her foot to the side of the boat,
and leapt down,
Coal-dust flew up.
The woman came to the door.
She was plump and sandy-haired,
with an odd,
you will make a mess of yourself,"
surprised and laughing with a little wonder.
"I did want to see.
Isn't it lovely living on a barge?"
"I don't live on one altogether,"
said the woman cheerfully.
"She's got her parlour an' her plush suite in Loughborough,"
said her husband with just pride.
Ursula peeped into the cabin,
where saucepans were boiling and some dishes were on the table.
It was very hot.
Then she came out again.
The man was talking to the baby.
It was a blue-eyed,
fresh-faced thing with floss of red-gold hair.
"Is it a boy or a girl?"
"It's a girl --aren't you a girl,
he shouted at the infant,
shaking his head.
Its little face wrinkled up into the oddest,
how nice when she laughs!"
"She'll laugh hard enough,"
said the father.
"What is her name?"
"She hasn't got a name,
she's not worth one,"
said the man.
you fag-end o' nothing?"
he shouted to the baby.
The baby laughed.
"No we've been that busy,
we've never took her to th' registry office,"
came the woman's voice.
"She was born on th' boat here."
"But you know what you're going to call her?"
"We did think of Gladys Em'ly,"
said the mother.
"We thought of nowt o' th' sort,"
said the father.
"Hark at him!
What do you want?'
cried the mother in exasperation.
"She'll be called Annabel after th' boat she was born on."
said the mother,
The father sat in humorous malice,
And Ursula could tell,
by the woman's vibrating exasperation,
that he would never give way.
"They're all nice names,"
"Call her Gladys Annabel Emily."
if you like,"
cried the woman.
"He's that pig-headed!"
"And she's so nice,
and she laughs,
and she hasn't even got a name,"
crooned Ursula to the child.
"Let me hold her,"
He yielded her the child,
that smelt of babies.
But it had such blue,
china blue eyes,
and it laughed so oddly,
with such a taking grimace,
Ursula loved it.
She cooed and talked to it.
It was such an odd,
"What's your name?"
the man suddenly asked of her.
"My name is Ursula --Ursula Brangwen,"
"There was a Saint Ursula.
It's a very old name,"
she added hastily,
There was no answer.
came the short answer.
"What about what?"
came the answer,
and the woman appeared in the doorway,
ready for combat.
"Ursula --it's the lass's name there,"
The woman looked the young girl up and down.
Evidently she was attracted by her slim,
her effect of white elegance,
and her tender way of holding the child.
how do you write it?"
the mother asked,
awkward now she was touched.
Ursula spelled out her name.
The man looked at the woman.
confused flush came over the mother's face,
a sort of luminous shyness.
"It's not a common name,
excited as by an adventure.
"Are you goin' to have it then?"
"I'd rather have it than Annabel,"
"An' I'd rather have it than Gladys Em'ler,"
There was a silence,
Ursula looked up.
"Will you really call her Ursula?"
replied the man,
as pleased as if he had found something.
It was now Ursula's turn to be confused.
"It does sound awfully nice,"
"I must give her something.
And I haven't got anything at all."
She stood in her white dress,
down there in the barge.
The lean man sitting near to her watched her as if she were a strange being,
as if she lit up his face.
His eyes smiled on her,
and yet with exceeding admiration underneath.
"Could I give her my necklace?"
It was the little necklace made of pieces of amethyst and topaz and pearl and crystal,
strung at intervals on a little golden chain,
which her Uncle Tom had given her.
She was very fond of it.
She looked at it lovingly,
when she had taken it from her neck.
"Is it valuable?"
the man asked her,
"I think so,"
"The stones and pearl are real;
it is worth three or four pounds,"
said Skrebensky from the wharf above.
Ursula could tell he disapproved of her.
"I must give it to your baby --may I?"
she said to the bargee.
and looked away into the evening.
"it's not for me to say."
"What would your father and mother say?"
cried the woman curiously,
from the door.
"It is my own,"
and she dangled the little glittering string before the baby.
The infant spread its little fingers.
But it could not grasp.
Ursula closed the tiny hand over the jewel.
The baby waved the bright ends of the string.
Ursula had given her necklace away.
She felt sad.
But she did not want it back.
The jewel swung from the baby's hand and fell in a little heap on the coal-dusty bottom of the barge.
The man groped for it,
with a kind of careful reverence.
Ursula noticed the coarsened,
blunted fingers groping at the little jewelled heap.
The skin was red on the back of the hand,
the fair hairs glistened stiffly.
It was a thin,
capable hand nevertheless,
and Ursula liked it.
He took up the necklace carefully,
and blew the coal-dust from it,
as it lay in the hollow of his hand.
He seemed still and attentive.
He held out his hand with the necklace shining small in its hard,
"Take it back,"
Ursula hardened with a kind of radiance.
"It belongs to little Ursula."
And she went to the infant and fastened the necklace round its warm,
weak little neck.
There was a moment of confusion,
then the father bent over his child:
"What do you say?"
"Do you say thank you?
Do you say thank you,
"Her name's Ursula now,"
said the mother,
smiling a little bit ingratiatingly from the door.
And she came out to examine the jewel on the child's neck.
"It is Ursula,
said Ursula Brangwen.
The father looked up at her,
with an intimate,
but wistful look.
His captive soul loved her: but his soul was captive,
She wanted to go.
He set a little ladder for her to climb up to the wharf.
She kissed the child,
which was in its mother's arms,
then she turned away.
The mother was effusive.
The man stood silent by the ladder.
Ursula joined Skrebensky.
The two young figures crossed the lock,
above the shining yellow water.
The barge-man watched them go.
"I loved them,"
she was saying.
"He was so gentle --oh,
And the baby was such a dear!"
"Was he gentle?"
"The woman had been a servant,
I'm sure of that."
"But I loved his impudence --it was so gentle underneath."
She went hastening on,
gladdened by having met the grimy,
lean man with the ragged moustache.
He gave her a pleasant warm feeling.
He made her feel the richness of her own life.
had created a deadness round her,
as if the world were ashes.
They said very little as they hastened home to the big supper.
He was envying the lean father of three children,
for his impudent directness and his worship of the woman in Ursula,
a worship of body and soul together,
the man's body and soul wistful and worshipping the body and spirit of the girl,
with a desire that knew the inaccessibility of its object,
but was only glad to know that the perfect thing existed,
glad to have had a moment of communion.
Why could not he himself desire a woman so?
Why did he never really want a woman,
not with the whole of him: never loved,
only just physically wanted her.
But he would want her with his body,
let his soul do as it would.
A kind of flame of physical desire was gradually beating up in the Marsh,
kindled by Tom Brangwen,
and by the fact of the wedding of Fred,
stiff-set farmer with the handsome,
with all his secret power,
seemed to fan the flame that was rising.
The bride was strongly attracted by him,
and he was exerting his influence on another beautiful,
chill and burning as the sea,
who said witty things which he appreciated,
making her glint with more,
And her greenish eyes seemed to rock a secret,
and her hands like mother-of-pearl seemed luminous,
as if the secret were burning visible in them.
At the end of supper,
the music began to play,
Everybody's face was lit up.
A glow of excitement prevailed.
When the little speeches were over,
and the port remained unreached for any more,
those who wished were invited out to the open for coffee.
The night was warm.
Bright stars were shining,
the moon was not yet up.
And under the stars burned two great,
and round these lights and lanterns hung,
the marquee stood open before a fire,
with its lights inside.
The young people flocked out into the mysterious night.
There was sound of laughter and voices,
and a scent of coffee.
The farm-buildings loomed dark in the background.
pale and dark,
The red fire glinted on a white or a silken skirt,
the lanterns gleamed on the transient heads of the wedding guests.
To Ursula it was wonderful.
She felt she was a new being.
The darkness seemed to breathe like the sides of some great beast,
the haystacks loomed half-revealed,
a crowd of them,
fecund lair just behind.
Waves of delirious darkness ran through her soul.
She wanted to let go.
She wanted to reach and be amongst the flashing stars,
she wanted to race with her feet and be beyond the confines of this earth.
She was mad to be gone.
It was as if a hound were straining on the leash,
ready to hurl itself after a nameless quarry into the dark.
And she was the quarry,
and she was also the hound.
The darkness was passionate and breathing with immense,
It was waiting to receive her in her flight.
And how could she start --and how could she let go?
She must leap from the known into the unknown.
Her feet and hands beat like a madness,
her breast strained as if in bonds.
The music began,
and the bonds began to slip.
Tom Brangwen was dancing with the bride,
quick and fluid and as if in another element,
inaccessible as the creatures that move in the water.
Fred Brangwen went in with another partner.
The music came in waves.
One couple after another was washed and absorbed into the deep underwater of the dance.
said Ursula to Skrebensky,
laying her hand on his arm.
At the touch of her hand on his arm,
his consciousness melted away from him.
He took her into his arms,
as if into the sure,
subtle power of his will,
and they became one movement,
one dual movement,
dancing on the slippery grass.
It would be endless,
it would continue for ever.
It was his will and her will locked in a trance of motion,
two wills locked in one motion,
yet never fusing,
never yielding one to the other.
It was a glaucous,
delicious flux and contest in flux.
They were both absorbed into a profound silence,
into a deep,
fluid underwater energy that gave them unlimited strength.
All the dancers were waving intertwined in the flux of music.
Shadowy couples passed and repassed before the fire,
the dancing feet danced silently by into the darkness.
It was a vision of the depths of the underworld,
under the great flood.
There was a wonderful rocking of the darkness,
slow swinging of the whole night,
with the music playing lightly on the surface,
making the strange,
rippling on the surface of the dance,
but underneath only one great flood heaving slowly backwards to the verge of oblivion,
slowly forward to the other verge,
the heart sweeping along each time,
and tightening with anguish as the limit was reached,
and the movement,
turned and swept back.
As the dance surged heavily on,
Ursula was aware of some influence looking in upon her.
Something was looking at her.
glowing sight was looking right into her,
not upon her,
but right at her.
Out of the great distance,
and yet imminent,
overwhelming watch was kept upon her.
And she danced on and on with Skrebensky,
while the great,
white watching continued,
balancing all in its revelation.
"The moon has risen,"
as the music ceased,
and they found themselves suddenly stranded,
like bits of jetsam on a shore.
and saw a great white moon looking at her over the hill.
And her breast opened to it,
she was cleaved like a transparent jewel to its light.
She stood filled with the full moon,
Her two breasts opened to make way for it,
her body opened wide like a quivering anemone,
dilated invitation touched by the moon.
She wanted the moon to fill in to her,
she wanted more,
more communion with the moon,
But Skrebensky put his arm round her,
and led her away.
He put a big,
dark cloak round her,
and sat holding her hand,
whilst the moonlight streamed above the glowing fires.
She was not there.
Patiently she sat,
under the cloak,
with Skrebensky holding her hand.
But her naked self was away there beating upon the moonlight,
dashing the moonlight with her breasts and her knees,
She half started,
to go in actuality,
to fling away her clothing and flee away,
away from this dark confusion and chaos of people to the hill and the moon.
But the people stood round her like stones,
like magnetic stones,
and she could not go,
like a load-stone weighed on her,
the weight of his presence detained her.
She felt the burden of him,
He was inert,
and he weighed upon her.
She sighed in pain.
for the coolness and entire liberty and brightness of the moon.
for the cold liberty to be herself,
to do entirely as she liked.
She wanted to get right away.
She felt like bright metal weighted down by dark,
He was the dross,
people were the dross.
If she could but get away to the clean free moonlight.
"Don't you like me to-night?"
said his low voice,
the voice of the shadow over her shoulder.
She clenched her hands in the dewy brilliance of the moon,
as if she were mad.
"Don't you like me to-night?"
repeated the soft voice.
And she knew that if she turned,
she would die.
A strange rage filled her,
a rage to tear things asunder.
Her hands felt destructive,
like metal blades of destruction.
"Let me alone,"
an obstinacy settled on him too,
in a kind of inertia.
He sat inert beside her.
She threw off her cloak and walked towards the moon,
He followed her closely.
The music began again and the dance.
He appropriated her.
There was a fierce,
cold passion in her heart.
But he held her close,
and danced with her.
like a soft weight upon her,
bearing her down,
was his body against her as they danced.
He held her very close,
so that she could feel his body,
the weight of him sinking,
settling upon her,
overcoming her life and energy,
making her inert along with him,
she felt his hands pressing behind her,
But still in her body was the subdued,
She liked the dance: it eased her,
put her into a sort of trance.
But it was only a kind of waiting,
of using up the time that intervened between her and her pure being.
She left herself against him,
she let him exert all his power over her,
to bear her down.
She received all the force of his power.
She even wished he might overcome her.
She was cold and unmoved as a pillar of salt.
His will was set and straining with all its tension to encompass him and compel her.
If he could only compel her.
He seemed to be annihilated.
She was cold and hard and compact of brilliance as the moon itself,
and beyond him as the moonlight was beyond him,
never to be grasped or known.
If he could only set a bond round her and compel her!
So they danced four or five dances,
always his will becoming more tense,
his body more subtle,
playing upon her.
And still he had not got her,
she was hard and bright as ever,
But he must weave himself round her,
enclose her in a net of shadow,
so she would be like a bright creature gleaming in a net of shadows,
Then he would have her,
he would enjoy her.
How he would enjoy her,
when she was caught.
when the dance was over,
she would not sit down,
she walked away.
He came with his arm round her,
keeping her upon the movement of his walking.
And she seemed to agree.
She was bright as a piece of moonlight,
as bright as a steel blade,
he seemed to be clasping a blade that hurt him.
Yet he would clasp her,
if it killed him.
They went towards the stackyard.
There he saw,
with something like terror,
the great new stacks of corn glistening and gleaming transfigured,
silvery and present under the night-blue sky,
but themselves majestic and dimly present.
like glimmering gossamer,
seemed to burn among them,
as they rose like cold fires to the silvery-bluish air.
All was intangible,
a burning of cold,
He was afraid of the great moon-conflagration of the cornstacks rising above him.
His heart grew smaller,
it began to fuse like a bead.
He knew he would die.
She stood for some moments out in the overwhelming luminosity of the moon.
She seemed a beam of gleaming power.
She was afraid of what she was.
Looking at him,
at his shadowy,
wavering presence a sudden lust seized her,
to lay hold of him and tear him and make him into nothing.
Her hands and wrists felt immeasurably hard and strong,
He waited there beside her like a shadow which she wanted to dissipate,
destroy as the moonlight destroys a darkness,
have done with.
She looked at him and her face gleamed bright and inspired.
She tempted him.
And an obstinacy in him made him put his arm round her and draw her to the shadow.
She submitted: let him try what he could do.
Let him try what he could do.
He leaned against the side of the stack,
The stack stung him keenly with a thousand cold,
Still obstinately he held her.
his hands went over her,
over the salt,
compact brilliance of her body.
If he could but have her,
how he would enjoy her!
If he could but net her brilliant,
salt-burning body in the soft iron of his own hands,
hold her down,
how madly he would enjoy her.
He strove subtly,
but with all his energy,
to enclose her,
to have her.
And always she was burning and brilliant and hard as salt,
all his flesh burning and corroding,
as if he were invaded by some consuming,
still he persisted,
thinking at last he might overcome her.
in his frenzy,
he sought for her mouth with his mouth,
though it was like putting his face into some awful death.
She yielded to him,
and he pressed himself upon her in extremity,
his soul groaning over and over:
"Let me come --let me come."
She took him in the kiss,
hard her kiss seized upon him,
hard and fierce and burning corrosive as the moonlight.
She seemed to be destroying him.
He was reeling,
summoning all his strength to keep his kiss upon her,
to keep himself in the kiss.
But hard and fierce she had fastened upon him,
cold as the moon and burning as a fierce salt.
Till gradually his warm,
soft iron yielded,
and she was there fierce,
seething with his destruction,
seething like some cruel,
corrosive salt around the last substance of his being,
destroying him in the kiss.
And her soul crystallized with triumph,
and his soul was dissolved with agony and annihilation.
So she held him there,
She had triumphed: he was not any more.
Gradually she began to come to herself.
Gradually a sort of daytime consciousness came back to her.
Suddenly the night was struck back into its old,
Gradually she realized that the night was common and ordinary,
that the great,
transcendent night did not really exist.
She was overcome with slow horror.
Where was she?
What was this nothingness she felt?
The nothingness was Skrebensky.
Was he really there?
--who was he?
He was silent,
he was not there.
What had happened?
Had she been mad: what horrible thing had possessed her?
She was filled with overpowering fear of herself,
overpowering desire that it should not be,
that other burning,
She was seized with a frenzied desire that what had been should never be remembered,
never be thought of,
never be for one moment allowed possible.
She denied it with all her might.
With all her might she turned away from it.
She was good,
she was loving.
Her heart was warm,
her blood was dark and warm and soft.
She laid her hand caressively on Anton's shoulder.
"Isn't it lovely?"
And she began to caress him to life again.
For he was dead.
And she intended that he should never know,
never become aware of what had been.
She would bring him back from the dead without leaving him one trace of fact to remember his annihilation by.
She exerted all her ordinary,
she touched him,
she did him homage of loving awareness.
And gradually he came back to her,
She was soft and winning and caressing.
She was his servant,
his adoring slave.
And she restored the whole shell of him.
She restored the whole form and figure of him.
But the core was gone.
His pride was bolstered up,
his blood ran once more in pride.
But there was no core to him: as a distinct male he had no core.
overweening heart of the intrinsic male would never beat again.
He would be subject now,
never the indomitable thing with a core of overweening,
She had abated that fire,
she had broken him.
But she caressed him.
She would not have him remember what had been.
She would not remember herself.
He kissed her,
but she knew he could not touch her.
His arms were round her,
but they had not got her.
She could feel his mouth upon her,
but she was not at all compelled by it.
in acute distress,
And he kissed her as she bade him,
but his heart was hollow.
She took his kisses,
But her soul was empty and finished.
she saw the delicate glint of oats dangling from the side of the stack,
in the moonlight,
something proud and royal,
and quite impersonal.
She had been proud with them,
where they were,
she had been also.
But in this temporary warm world of the commonplace,
she was a kind,
She reached out yearningly for goodness and affection.
She wanted to be kind and good.
They went home through the night that was all pale and glowing around,
with shadows and glimmerings and presences.
she saw the flowers in the hedge-bottoms,
she saw the thin,
raked sheaves flung white upon the thorny hedge.
how beautiful it was!
She thought with anguish how wildly happy she was to-night,
since he had kissed her.
But as he walked with his arm round her waist,
she turned with a great offering of herself to the night that glistened tremendous,
a magnificent godly moon white and candid as a bridegroom,
flowers silvery and transformed filling up the shadows.
He kissed her again,
under the yew trees at home,
and she left him.
She ran from the intrusion of her parents at home,
to her bedroom,
looking out on the moonlit country,
she stretched up her arms,
agony offering herself to the blond,
debonair presence of the night.
But there was a wound of sorrow,
she had hurt herself,
as if she had bruised herself,
in annihilating him.
She covered up her two young breasts with her hands,
covering them to herself;
and covering herself with herself,
she crouched in bed,
In the morning the sun shone,
she got up strong and dancing.
Skrebensky was still at the Marsh.
He was coming to church.
how amazing life was!
On the fresh Sunday morning she went out to the garden,
among the yellows and the deep-vibrating reds of autumn,
she smelled the earth and felt the gossamer,
the cornfields across the country were pale and unreal,
everywhere was the intense silence of the Sunday morning,
filled with unacquainted noises.
She smelled the body of the earth,
it seemed to stir its powerful flank beneath her as she stood.
In the bluish air came the powerful exudation,
the peace was the peace of strong,
the reds and yellows and the white gleam of stubble were the quivers and motion of the last subsiding transports and clear bliss of fulfilment.
The church-bells were ringing when he came.
She looked up in keen anticipation at his entry.
But he was troubled and his pride was hurt.
He seemed very much clothed,
she was conscious of his tailored suit.
"Wasn't it lovely last night?"
she whispered to him.
But his face did not open nor become free.
The service and the singing in church that morning passed unnoticed by her.
She saw the coloured glow of the windows,
the forms of the worshippers.
Only she glanced at the book of Genesis,
which was her favourite book in the Bible.
"And God blessed Noah and his sons,
and said unto them,
Be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth.
"And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth,
and upon every fowl of the air,
upon all that moveth upon the earth,
and upon all the fishes in the sea;
into your hand are they delivered.
"Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you;
even as the green herb have I given you all things."
But Ursula was not moved by the history this morning.
Multiplying and replenishing the earth bored her.
Altogether it seemed merely a vulgar and stock-raising sort of business.
She was left quite cold by man's stock-breeding lordship over beast and fishes.
be ye fruitful and multiply;
bring forth abundantly in the earth,
and multiply therein."
In her soul she mocked at this multiplication,
every cow becoming two cows,
every turnip ten turnips.
"And God said;
This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you,
for perpetual generations;
"I do set my bow in the cloud,
and it shall be a token of a covenant between me and the earth.
"And it shall come to pass,
when I bring a cloud over the earth,
that a bow shall be seen in the cloud;
"And I will remember my covenant,
which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh,
and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh."
"Destroy all flesh,"
why "flesh" in particular?
Who was this lord of flesh?
how big was the Flood?
Perhaps a few dryads and fauns had just run into the hills and the farther valleys and woods,
but most had gone on blithely unaware of any flood at all,
unless the nymphs should tell them.
It pleased Ursula to think of the naiads in Asia Minor meeting the nereids at the mouth of the streams,
where the sea washed against the fresh,
and calling to their sisters the news of Noah's Flood.
They would tell amusing accounts of Noah in his ark.
Some nymphs would relate how they had hung on the side of the ark,
and heard Noah and Shem and Ham and Japeth,
sitting in their place under the rain,
how they four were the only men on earth now,
because the Lord had drowned all the rest,
so that they four would have everything to themselves,
and be masters of every thing,
sub-tenants under the great Proprietor.
Ursula wished she had been a nymph.
She would have laughed through the window of the ark,
and flicked drops of the flood at Noah,
before she drifted away to people who were less important in their Proprietor and their Flood.
What was God,
If maggots in a dead dog be but God kissing carrion,
what then is not God?
She was surfeited of this God.
She was weary of the Ursula Brangwen who felt troubled about God.
What ever God was,
and there was no need for her to trouble about Him.
She felt she had now all licence.
Skrebensky sat beside her,
listening to the sermon,
to the voice of law and order.
"The very hairs of your head are all numbered."
He did not believe it.
He believed his own things were quite at his own disposal.
You could do as you liked with your own things,
so long as you left other people's alone.
Ursula caressed him and made love to him.
Nevertheless he knew she wanted to react upon him and to destroy his being.
She was not with him,
she was against him.
But her making love to him,
her complete admiration of him,
in open life,
She caught him out of himself,
and they were lovers,
in a young,
almost fantastic way.
He gave her a little ring.
They put it in Rhine wine,
in their glass,
and she drank,
then he drank.
They drank till the ring lay exposed at the bottom of the glass.
Then she took the simple jewel,
and tied it on a thread round her neck,
where she wore it.
He asked her for a photograph when he was going away.
She went in great excitement to the photographer,
with five shillings.
The result was an ugly little picture of herself with her mouth on one side.
She wondered over it and admired it.
He saw only the live face of the girl.
The picture hurt him.
He kept it,
he always remembered it,
but he could scarcely bear to see it.
There was a hurt to his soul in the clear,
fearless face that was touched with abstraction.
Its abstraction was certainly away from him.
Then war was declared with the Boers in South Africa,
and everywhere was a fizz of excitement.
He wrote that he might have to go.
And he sent her a box of sweets.
She was slightly dazed at the thought of his going to the war,
not knowing how to feel.
It was a sort of romantic situation that she knew so well in fiction she hardly understood it in fact.
Underneath a top elation was a sort of dreariness,
she secreted the sweets under her bed,
and ate them all herself,
when she went to bed,
and when she woke in the morning.
All the time she felt very guilty and ashamed,
but she simply did not want to share them.
That box of sweets remained stuck in her mind afterwards.
Why had she secreted them and eaten them every one?
She did not feel guilty --she only knew she ought to feel guilty.
And she could not make up her mind.
Curiously monumental that box of sweets stood up,
now it was empty.
It was a crux for her.
What was she to think of it?
The idea of war altogether made her feel uneasy,
When men began organized fighting with each other it seemed to her as if the poles of the universe were cracking,
and the whole might go tumbling into the bottomless pit.
A horrible bottomless feeling she had.
Yet of course there was the minted superscription of romance and honour and even religion about war.
She was very confused.
Skrebensky was busy,
he could not come to see her.
She asked for no assurance,
What was between them,
and could not be altered by avowals.
She knew that by instinct,
she trusted to the intrinsic reality.
But she felt an agony of helplessness.
She could do nothing.
Vaguely she knew the huge powers of the world rolling and crashing together,
so that one was brushed along almost as dust.
swirling like dust!
Yet she wanted so hard to rebel,
But with what?
Could she with her hands fight the face of the earth,
beat the hills in their places?
Yet her breast wanted to fight,
to fight the whole world.
And these two small hands were all she had to do it with.
The months went by,
and it was Christmas --the snowdrops came.
There was a little hollow in the wood near Cossethay,
where snowdrops grew wild.
She sent him some in a box,
and he wrote her a quick little note of thanks --very grateful and wistful he seemed.
Her eyes grew childlike and puzzled.
Puzzled from day to day she went on,
carried along by all that must happen.
He went about at his duties,
giving himself up to them.
At the bottom of his heart his self,
the soul that aspired and had true hope of self-effectuation lay as dead,
a dead weight in his womb.
Who was he,
to hold important his personal connection?
What did a man matter personally?
He was just a brick in the whole great social fabric,
the modern humanity.
His personal movements were small,
and entirely subsidiary.
The whole form must be ensured,
for any personal reason whatsoever,
since no personal reason could justify such a breaking.
What did personal intimacy matter?
One had to fill one's place in the whole,
the great scheme of man's elaborate civilization,
that was all.
The Whole mattered --but the unit,
had no importance,
except as he represented the Whole.
So Skrebensky left the girl out and went his way,
serving what he had to serve,
and enduring what he had to endure,
To his own intrinsic life,
he was dead.
And he could not rise again from the dead.
His soul lay in the tomb.
His life lay in the established order of things.
He had his five senses too.
They were to be gratified.
Apart from this,
he represented the great,
extant Idea of life,
and as this he was important and beyond question.
The good of the greatest number was all that mattered.
That which was the greatest good for them all,
was the greatest good for the individual.
every man must give himself to support the state,
and so labour for the greatest good of all.
One might make improvements in the state,
but always with a view to preserving it intact.
No highest good of the community,
would give him the vital fulfilment of his soul.
He knew this.
But he did not consider the soul of the individual sufficiently important.
He believed a man was important in so far as he represented all humanity.
He could not see,
it was not born in him to see,
that the highest good of the community as it stands is no longer the highest good of even the average individual.
He thought that,
because the community represents millions of people,
therefore it must be millions of times more important than any individual,
forgetting that the community is an abstraction from the many,
and is not the many themselves.
Now when the statement of the abstract good for the community has become a formula lacking in all inspiration or value to the average intelligence,
then the "common good" becomes a general nuisance,
representing the vulgar,
conservative materialism at a low level.
And by the highest good of the greatest number is chiefly meant the material prosperity of all classes.
Skrebensky did not really care about his own material prosperity.
If he had been penniless --well,
he would have taken his chances.
Therefore how could he find his highest good in giving up his life for the material prosperity of everybody else!
What he considered an unimportant thing for himself he could not think worthy of every sacrifice on behalf of other people.
And that which he would consider of the deepest importance to himself as an individual --oh,
you mustn't consider the community from that standpoint.
No --no --we know what the community wants;
it wants something solid,
it wants good wages,
good conditions of living,
that's what the community wants.
It doesn't want anything subtle or difficult.
Duty is very plain-keep in mind the material,
the immediate welfare of every man,
So there came over Skrebensky a sort of nullity,
which more and more terrified Ursula.
She felt there was something hopeless which she had to submit to.
She felt a great sense of disaster impending.
Day after day was made inert with a sense of disaster.
She became morbidly sensitive,
It was anguish to her when she saw one rook slowly flapping in the sky.
That was a sign of ill-omen.
And the foreboding became so black and so powerful in her,
that she was almost extinguished.
Yet what was the matter?
At the worst he was only going away.
Why did she mind,
what was it she feared?
She did not know.
Only she had a black dread possessing her.
When she went at night and saw the big,
flashing stars they seemed terrible,
by day she was always expecting some charge to be made against her.
He wrote in March to say that he was going to South Africa in a short time,
but before he went,
he would snatch a day at the Marsh.
As if in a painful dream,
she waited suspended,
She did not know,
she could not understand.
Only she felt that all the threads of her fate were being held taut,
She only wept sometimes as she went about,
"I am so fond of him,
I am so fond of him."
But why did he come?
She looked at him for a sign.
He gave no sign.
He did not even kiss her.
He behaved as if he were an affable,
This was superficial,
but what did it hide?
She waited for him,
she wanted him to make some sign.
So the whole of the day they wavered and avoided contact,
saying he would be back in six months' time and would tell them all about it,
he shook hands with her mother and took his leave.
Ursula accompanied him into the lane.
The night was windy,
the yew trees seethed and hissed and vibrated.
The wind seemed to rush about among the chimneys and the church-tower.
It was dark.
The wind blew Ursula's face,
and her clothes cleaved to her limbs.
But it was a surging,
instinct with compressed vigour of life.
And she seemed to have lost Skrebensky.
Out there in the strong,
urgent night she could not find him.
"Where are you?"
came his bodiless voice.
she touched him.
A fire like lightning drenched them.
She held him with her hands in the darkness,
she felt his body again with hers.
"Don't leave me --come back to me,"
holding her in his arms.
But the male in him was scotched by the knowledge that she was not under his spell nor his influence.
He wanted to go away from her.
He rested in the knowledge that to-morrow he was going away,
his life was really elsewhere.
His life was elsewhere --his life was elsewhere --the centre of his life was not what she would have.
She was different --there was a breach between them.
They were hostile worlds.
"You will come back to me?"
And he meant it.
But as one keeps an appointment,
not as a man returning to his fulfilment.
So she kissed him,
and went indoors,
He walked down to the Marsh abstracted.
The contact with her hurt him,
and threatened him.
he had to be free of her spirit.
For she would stand before him,
like the angel before Balaam,
and drive him back with a sword from the way he was going,
into a wilderness.
The next day she went to the station to see him go.
She looked at him,
she turned to him,
but he was always so strange and null --so null.
He was so collected.
She thought it was that which made him null.
Strangely nothing he was.
Ursula stood near him with a mute,
pale face which he would rather not see.
There seemed some shame at the very root of life,
dead shame for her.
The three made a noticeable group on the station;
the girl in her fur cap and tippet and her olive green costume,
tense with youth,
the soldierly young man in a crush hat and a heavy overcoat,
his face rather pale and reserved above his purple scarf,
his whole figure neutral;
then the elder man,
a fashionable bowler hat pressed low over his dark brows,
his face warm-coloured and calm,
his whole figure curiously suggestive of full-blooded indifference;
he was the eternal audience,
the spectator at the drama;
in his own life he would have no drama.
The train was rushing up.
Ursula's heart heaved,
but the ice was frozen too strong upon it.
lifting her hand,
her face laughing with her peculiar,
almost dazzling laugh.
She wondered what he was doing,
when he stooped and kissed her.
He should be shaking hands and going.
she said again.
He picked up his little bag and turned his back on her.
There was a hurry along the train.
here was his carriage.
He took his seat.
Tom Brangwen shut the door,
and the two men shook hands as the whistle went.
"Good-bye --and good luck,"
"Thank you --good-bye."
The train moved off.
Skrebensky stood at the carriage window,
but not really looking to the two figures,
the girl and the warm-coloured,
almost effeminately-dressed man Ursula waved her handkerchief.
The train gathered speed,
it grew smaller and smaller.
Still it ran in a straight line.
The speck of white vanished.
The rear of the train was small in the distance.
Still she stood on the platform,
feeling a great emptiness about her.
In spite of herself her mouth was quivering: she did not want to cry: her heart was dead cold.
Her Uncle Tom had gone to an automatic machine,
and was getting matches.
"Would you like some sweets?"
Her face was covered with tears,
she made curious,
downward grimaces with her mouth,
to get control.
Yet her heart was not crying --it was cold and earthy.
"What kind would you like --any?"
persisted her uncle.
"I should love some peppermint drops,"
in a strange,
from her distorted face.
But in a few moments she had gained control of herself,
and was still,
"Let us go into the town,"
and he rushed her into a train,
moving to the town station.
They went to a cafe to drink coffee,
she sat looking at people in the street,
and a great wound was in her breast,
a cold imperturbability in her soul.
This cold imperturbability of spirit continued in her now.
It was as if some disillusion had frozen upon her,
a hard disbelief.
Part of her had gone cold,
She was too young,
too baffled to understand,
or even to know that she suffered much.
And she was too deeply hurt to submit.
She had her blind agonies,
when she wanted him,
she wanted him.
But from the moment of his departure,
he had become a visionary thing of her own.
All her roused torment and passion and yearning she turned to him.
She kept a diary,
in which she wrote impulsive thoughts.
Seeing the moon in the sky,
her own heart surcharged,
she went and wrote:
"If I were the moon,
I know where I would fall down."
It meant so much to her,
that sentence --she put into it all the anguish of her youth and her young passion and yearning.
She called to him from her heart wherever she went,
her limbs vibrated with anguish towards him wherever she was,
the radiating force of her soul seemed to travel to him,
and in her soul's own creation,
But who was he,
and where did he exist?
In her own desire only.
She received a post-card from him,
and she put it in her bosom.
It did not mean much to her,
The second day,
she lost it,
and never even remembered she had had it,
till some days afterwards.
The long weeks went by.
There came the constant bad news of the war.
And she felt as if all,
outside there in the world,
were a hurt,
a hurt against her.
And something in her soul remained cold,
Her life was always only partial at this time,
never did she live completely.
There was the cold,
unliving part of her.
Yet she was madly sensitive.
She could not bear herself.
When a dirty,
red-eyed old woman came begging of her in the street,
she started away as from an unclean thing.
when the old woman shouted acrid insults after her,
her limbs palpitated with insane torment,
she could not bear herself.
Whenever she thought of the red-eyed old woman,
a sort of madness ran in inflammation over her flesh and her brain,
she almost wanted to kill herself.
And in this state,
her sexual life flamed into a kind of disease within her.
She was so overwrought and sensitive,
that the mere touch of coarse wool seemed to tear her nerves.