THE WIDENING CIRCLE
lived in the large gardener's cottage,
that was half a farm,
behind Belcote Hall.
The hall was too damp to live in,
so the Schofields were caretakers,
all in one.
The father was gamekeeper and stock-breeder,
the eldest son was market-gardener,
using the big hall gardens,
the second son was farmer and gardener.
There was a large family,
as at Cossethay.
Ursula loved to stay at Belcote,
to be treated as a grand lady by Maggie's brothers.
They were good-looking men.
The eldest was twenty-six years old.
He was the gardener,
a man not very tall,
but strong and well made,
easy eyes and a face handsomely hewn,
with a long fair moustache which he pulled as he talked to Ursula.
The girl was excited because these men attended to her when she came near.
She could make their eyes light up and quiver,
she could make Anthony,
twist and twist his moustache.
She knew she could move them almost at will with her light laughter and chatter.
They loved her ideas,
watched her as she talked vehemently about politics or economics.
while she talked,
saw the golden-brown eyes of Anthony gleam like the eyes of a satyr as they watched her.
He did not listen to her words,
he listened to her.
It excited her.
He was like a faun pleased when she would go with him over his hothouses,
to look at the green and pretty plants,
at the pink primulas nodding among their leaves,
and cinarrias flaunting purple and crimson and white.
She asked about everything,
and he told her very exactly and minutely,
in a queer pedantic way that made her want to laugh.
Yet she was really interested in what he did.
And he had the curious light in his face,
like the light in the eyes of the goat that was tethered by the farmyard gate.
She went down with him into the warmish cellar,
where already in the darkness the little yellow knobs of rhubarb were coming.
He held the lantern down to the dark earth.
She saw the tiny knob-end of the rhubarb thrusting upwards upon the thick red stem,
thrusting itself like a knob of flame through the soft soil.
His face was turned up to her,
the light glittered on his eyes and his teeth as he laughed,
with a faint,
He looked handsome.
And she heard a new sound in her ears,
neighing laugh of Anthony,
whose moustache twisted up,
and whose eyes were luminous with a cold,
There seemed a little prance of triumph in his movement,
she could not rid herself of a movement of acquiescence,
a touch of acceptance.
Yet he was so humble,
his voice was so caressing.
He held his hand for her to step on when she must climb a wall.
And she stepped on the living firmness of him,
that quivered firmly under her weight.
She was aware of him as if in a mesmeric state.
In her ordinary sense,
she had nothing to do with him.
But the peculiar ease and unnoticeableness of his entering the house,
the power of his cold,
gleaming light on her when he looked at her,
was like a bewitchment.
In his eyes,
as in the pale grey eyes of a goat,
there seemed some of that steady,
hard fire of moonlight which has nothing to do with the day.
It made her alert,
and yet her mind went out like an extinguished thing.
She was all senses,
all her senses were alive.
Then she saw him on Sunday,
dressed up in Sunday clothes,
trying to impress her.
And he looked ridiculous.
She clung to the ridiculous effect of his stiff,
She was always conscious of some unfaithfulness to Maggie,
on Anthony's score.
Poor Maggie stood apart as if betrayed.
Maggie and Anthony were enemies by instinct.
Ursula had to go back to her friend brimming with affection and a poignancy of pity.
Which Maggie received with a little stiffness.
Then poetry and books and learning took the place of Anthony,
with his goats' movements and his cold,
While Ursula was at Belcote,
the snow fell.
In the morning,
a covering of snow weighed on the rhododendron bushes.
"Shall we go out?"
She had lost some of her leader's sureness,
and was now tentative,
a little in reserve from her friend.
They took the key of the gate and wandered into the park.
It was a white world on which dark trees and tree masses stood under a sky keen with frost.
The two girls went past the hall,
that was shuttered and silent,
their footprints marking the snow on the drive.
Down the park,
a long way off,
a man was carrying armfuls of hay across the snow.
He was a small,
like an animal moving in its unawareness.
Ursula and Maggie went on exploring,
down to a tinkling,
that had worn the snow away in little scoops,
and ran dark between.
They saw a robin glance its bright eyes and burst scarlet and grey into the hedge,
then some pertly-marked blue-tits scuffled.
Meanwhile the brook slid on coldly,
chuckling to itself.
The girls wandered across the snowy grass to where the artificial fish-ponds lay under thin ice.
There was a big tree with a thick trunk twisted with ivy,
that hung almost horizontal over the ponds.
Ursula climbed joyfully into this and sat amid bosses of bright ivy and dull berries.
Some ivy leaves were like green spears held out,
and tipped with snow.
The ice was seen beneath them.
Maggie took out a book,
and sitting lower down the trunk began to read Coleridge's "Christabel".
Ursula half listened.
She was wildly thrilled.
Then she saw Anthony coming across the snow,
with his confident,
slightly strutting stride.
His face looked brown and hard against the snow,
smiling with a sort of tense confidence.
she called to him.
A response went over his face,
his head was lifted in an answering,
"You're like a bird in there."
And Ursula's laugh rang out.
She answered to the peculiar,
reedy twang in his penetrating voice.
She did not think of Anthony,
yet she lived in a sort of connection with him,
in his world.
One evening she met him as she was coming down the lane,
and they walked side by side.
"I think it's so lovely here,"
"I'm glad you like it."
There was a curious confidence in his voice.
I love it.
What more does one want than to live in this beautiful place,
and make things grow in your garden.
It is like the Garden of Eden."
with a little laugh.
it's not so bad -- --" he was hesitating.
The pale gleam was strong in his eyes,
he was looking at her steadily,
as an animal might.
Something leaped in her soul.
She knew he was going to suggest to her that she should be as he was.
"Would you like to stay here with me?"
She blenched with fear and with the intense sensation of proffered licence suggested to her.
They had come to the gate.
"You aren't alone here."
"We could marry,"
in the strange,
coldly-gleaming insinuating tone that chilled the sunshine into moonlight.
All substantial things seemed transformed.
Shadows and dancing moonlight were real,
and all cold,
She realized with something like terror that she was going to accept this.
She was going inevitably to accept him.
His hand was reaching out to the gate before them.
She stood still.
His flesh was hard and brown and final.
She seemed to be in the grip of some insult.
He gave the same brief,
neighing little laugh,
very sad and bitter now,
and slotted back the bar of the gate.
Yet he did not open.
For a moment they both stood looking at the fire of sunset that quivered among the purple twigs of the trees.
She saw his brown,
well-hewn face gleaming with anger and humiliation and submission.
He was an animal that knows that it is subdued.
Her heart flamed with sensation of him,
of the fascinating thing he offered her,
and with sorrow,
and with an inconsolable sense of loneliness.
Her soul was an infant crying in the night.
He had no soul.
and why had she?
He was the cleaner.
She turned away,
she turned round from him,
and saw the east flushed strangely rose,
the moon coming yellow and lovely upon a rosy sky,
above the darkening,
All this so beautiful,
all this so lovely!
He did not see it.
He was one with it.
But she saw it,
and was one with it.
Her seeing separated them infinitely.
They went on in silence down the path,
following their different fates.
The trees grew darker and darker,
the snow made only a dimness in an unreal world.
And like a shadow,
the day had gone into a faintly luminous,
while she was talking aimlessly to him,
to keep him at a distance,
yet to keep him near her,
and he walked heavily.
He opened the garden gate for her quietly,
and she was entering into her own pleasances,
leaving him outside the gate.
Then even whilst she was escaping,
or trying to escape,
this feeling of pain,
came Maggie the next day,
"I wouldn't make Anthony love you,
if you don't want him.
It is not nice."
I never made him love me,"
dismayed and suffering,
and feeling as if she had done something base.
She liked Anthony,
All her life,
she returned to the thought of him and of that which he offered.
But she was a traveller,
she was a traveller on the face of the earth,
and he was an isolated creature living in the fulfilment of his own senses.
She could not help it,
that she was a traveller.
She knew Anthony,
that he was not one.
ultimately and finally,
she must go on and on,
seeking the goal that she knew she did draw nearer to.
She was wearing away her second and last cycle at St. Philip's.
As the months went she ticked them off,
She was careful always to subtract a month from the remainder,
for the summer holidays.
She saw herself travelling round a circle,
only an arc of which remained to complete.
she was in the open,
like a bird tossed into mid-air,
a bird that had learned in some measure to fly.
There was college ahead;
that was her mid-air,
and she would have broken from the confines of all the life she had known.
For her father was also going to move.
They were all going to leave Cossethay.
Brangwen had kept his carelessness about his circumstances.
He knew his work in the lace designing meant little to him personally,
he just earned his wage by it.
He did not know what meant much to him.
Living close to Anna Brangwen,
his mind was always suffused through with physical heat,
he moved from instinct to instinct,
always groping on.
When it was suggested to him that he might apply for one of the posts as hand-work instructor,
posts about to be created by the Nottingham Education Committee,
it was as if a space had been given to him,
into which he could remove from his hot,
He sent in his application,
He had a sort of belief in his supernatural fate.
The inevitable weariness of his daily work had stiffened some of his muscles,
and made a slight deadness in his ruddy,
Now he might escape.
He was full of the new possibilities,
and his wife was acquiescent.
She was willing now to have a change.
She too was tired of Cossethay.
The house was too small for the growing children.
And since she was nearly forty years old,
she began to come awake from her sleep of motherhood,
her energy moved more outwards.
The din of growing lives roused her from her apathy.
She too must have her hand in making life.
She was quite ready to move,
taking all her brood.
It would be better now if she transplanted them.
For she had borne her last child,
it would be growing up.
So that in her easy,
unused fashion she talked plans and arrangements with her husband,
indifferent really as to the method of the change,
since a change was coming;
even if it did not come in this way it would come in another.
The house was full of ferment.
Ursula was wild with excitement.
At last her father was going to be something,
he had been a social cypher,
without form or standing.
Now he was going to be Art and Handwork Instructor for the County of Nottingham.
That was really a status.
It was a position.
He would be a specialist in his way.
And he was an uncommon man.
Ursula felt they were all getting a foothold at last.
He was coming to his own.
Who else that she knew could turn out from his own fingers the beautiful things her father could produce?
She felt he was certain of this new job.
They would move.
They would leave this cottage at Cossethay which had grown too small for them;
they would leave Cossethay,
where the children had all been born,
and where they were always kept to the same measure.
For the people who had known them as children along with the other village boys and girls would never,
could never understand that they should grow up different.
They had held "Urtler Brangwen" one of themselves,
and had given her her place in her native village,
as in a family.
And the bond was strong.
when she was growing to something beyond what Cossethay would allow or understand,
the bond between her and her old associates was becoming a bondage.
'ow are yer goin' on?"
they said when they met her.
And it demanded of her in the old voice the old response.
And something in her must respond and belong to people who knew her.
But something else denied bitterly.
What was true of her ten years ago was not true now.
And something else which she was,
and must be,
they could neither see nor allow.
They felt it there nevertheless,
something beyond them,
and they were injured.
They said she was proud and conceited,
that she was too big for her shoes nowadays.
she needn't pretend,
because they knew what she was.
They had known her since she was born.
They quoted this and that about her.
And she was ashamed because she did feel different from the people she had lived amongst.
It hurt her that she could not be at her ease with them any more.
And yet --and yet --one's kite will rise on the wind as far as ever one has string to let it go.
It tugs and tugs and will go,
and one is glad the further it goes,
even it everybody else is nasty about it.
So Cossethay hampered her,
and she wanted to go away,
to be free to fly her kite as high as she liked.
She wanted to go away,
to be free to stand straight up to her own height.
So that when she knew that her father had the new post,
and that the family would move,
she felt like skipping on the face of the earth,
and making psalms of joy.
bound shell of Cossethay was to be cast off,
and she was to dance away into the blue air.
She wanted to dance and sing.
She made dreams of the new place she would live in,
where stately cultured people of high feeling would be friends with her,
and she would live with the noble in the land,
moving to a large freedom of feeling.
She dreamed of a rich,
who had never known Mr. Harby and his like,
nor ever had a note in her voice of bondaged contempt and fear,
as Maggie had.
And she gave herself to all that she loved in Cossethay,
because she was going away now.
She wandered about to her favourite spots.
There was a place where she went trespassing to find the snowdrops that grew wild.
It was evening and the winter-darkened meadows were full of mystery.
When she came to the woods an oak tree had been newly chopped down in the dell.
Pale drops of flowers glimmered many under the hazels,
and by the sharp,
golden splinters of wood that were splashed about,
the grey-green blades of snowdrop leaves pricked unheeding,
the drooping still little flowers were without heed.
Ursula picked some lovingly,
in an ecstasy.
The golden chips of wood shone yellow like sunlight,
the snowdrops in the twilight were like the first stars of night.
alone amongst them,
was wildly happy to have found her way into such a glimmering dusk,
to the intimate little flowers,
and the splash of wood chips like sunshine over the twilight of the ground.
She sat down on the felled tree and remained awhile remote.
she left the purplish dark of the trees for the open lane,
where the puddles shone long and jewel-like in the ruts,
the land about her was darkened,
and the sky a jewel overhead.
how amazing it was to her!
It was almost too much.
She wanted to run,
and cry out for very wildness and poignancy,
but she could not run and sing and cry out in such a way as to cry out the deep things in her heart,
so she was still,
and almost sad with loneliness.
At Easter she went again to Maggie's home,
for a few days.
however shy and fugitive.
She saw Anthony,
how suggestive he was to look on,
and how his eyes had a sort of supplicating light,
that was rather beautiful.
She looked at him,
and she looked again,
for him to become real to her.
But it was her own self that was occupied elsewhere.
She seemed to have some other being.
And she turned to spring and the opening buds.
There was a large pear tree by a wall,
and it was full,
thronged with tiny,
She stood before it arrested with delight,
and a realization went deep into her heart.
There was so great a host in array behind the cloud of pale,
so much to come forth --so much sunshine to pour down.
So the weeks passed on,
trance-like and pregnant.
The pear tree at Cossethay burst into bloom against the cottage-end,
like a wave burst into foam.
Then gradually the bluebells came,
blue as water standing thin in the level places under the trees and bushes,
flowing in more and more,
till there was a flood of azure,
and pale-green leaves burning,
and tiny birds with fiery little song and flight.
Then swiftly the flood sank and was gone,
and it was summer.
There was to be no going to the seaside for a holiday.
The holiday was the removal from Cossethay.
They were going to live near Willey Green,
which place was most central for Brangwen.
It was an old,
quiet village on the edge of the thronged colliery-district.
So that it served,
in its quaintness of odd old cottages lingering in their sunny gardens,
as a sort of bower or pleasaunce to the sprawling colliery-townlet of Beldover,
a pleasant walk-round for the colliers on Sunday morning,
before the public-houses opened.
In Willey Green stood the Grammar School where Brangwen was occupied for two days during the week,
and where experiments in education were being carried on.
Ursula wanted to live in Willey Green on the remoter side,
and Sherwood Forest.
There it was so lovely and romantic.
But out into the world meant out into the world.
Will Brangwen must become modern.
with his wife's money,
a fairly large house in the new,
red-brick part of Beldover.
It was a villa built by the widow of the late colliery manager,
and stood in a quiet,
new little side-street near the large church.
Ursula was rather sad.
Instead of having arrived at distinction they had come to new red-brick suburbia in a grimy,
Mrs. Brangwen was happy.
The rooms were splendidly large --a splendid dining-room,
drawing-room and kitchen,
besides a very pleasant study downstairs.
Everything was admirably appointed.
The widow had settled herself in lavishly.
She was a native of Beldover,
and had intended to reign almost queen.
Her bathroom was white and silver,
her stairs were of oak,
her chimney-pieces were massive and oaken,
"Good and substantial,"
was the keynote.
But Ursula resented the stout,
inflated prosperity implied everywhere.
She made her father promise to chisel down the bulging oaken chimney-pieces,
chisel them flat.
That sort of important paunch was very distasteful to her.
Her father was himself long and loosely built.
What had he to do with so much "good and substantial" importance?
They bought a fair amount also of the widow's furniture.
It was in common good taste --the great Wilton carpet,
the large round table,
the Chesterfield covered with glossy chintz in roses and birds.
It was all really very sunny and nice,
with large windows,
and a view right across the shallow valley.
they would be,
as one of their acquaintances said,
among the elite of Beldover.
They would represent culture.
And as there was no one of higher social importance than the doctors,
and the chemists,
they would shine,
with their Della Robbia beautiful Madonna,
their lovely reliefs from Donatello,
their reproductions from Botticelli.
the large photographs of the Primavera and the Aphrodite and the Nativity in the dining-room,
the ordinary reception-room,
would make dumb the mouth of Beldover.
And after all,
it is better to be princess in Beldover than a vulgar nobody in the country.
There was great preparation made for the removal of the whole Brangwen family,
ten in all.
The house in Beldover was prepared,
the house in Cossethay was dismantled.
Come the end of the school-term the removal would begin.
Ursula left school at the end of July,
when the summer holiday commenced.
The morning outside was bright and sunny,
and the freedom got inside the schoolroom this last day.
It was as if the walls of the school were going to melt away.
Already they seemed shadowy and unreal.
It was breaking-up morning.
Soon scholars and teachers would be outside,
each going his own way.
The irons were struck off,
the sentence was expired,
the prison was a momentary shadow halting about them.
The children were carrying away books and inkwell,
and rolling up maps.
All their faces were bright with gladness and goodwill.
There was a bustle of cleaning and clearing away all marks of this last term of imprisonment.
They were all breaking free.
Ursula made up her totals of attendances in the register.
With pride she wrote down the thousands: to so many thousands of children had she given another sessions's lessons.
It looked tremendous.
The excited hours passed slowly in suspense.
Then at last it was over.
For the last time,
she stood before her children whilst they said their prayers and sang a hymn.
Then it was over.
"I shall not forget you,
and you must not forget me."
cried the children in chorus,
with shining faces.
She stood smiling on them,
as they filed out.
Then she gave her monitors their term sixpences,
and they too departed.
Cupboards were locked,
ink wells and dusters removed.
The place stood bare and vacated.
She had triumphed over it.
It was a shell now.
She had fought a good fight here,
and it had not been altogether unenjoyable.
She owed some gratitude even to this hard,
that stood like a memorial or a trophy.
So much of her life had been fought for and won and lost here.
Something of this school would always belong to her,
something of her to it.
She acknowledged it.
And now came the leave-taking.
In the teachers' room the teachers were chatting and loitering,
talking excitedly of where they were going: to the Isle of Man,
They were eager,
and attached to each other,
like comrades leaving a ship.
Then it was Mr. Harby's turn to make a speech to Ursula.
He looked handsome,
with his silver-grey temples and black brows,
and his imperturbable male solidity.
"we must say good-bye to Miss Brangwen and wish her all good fortune for the future.
I suppose we shall see her again some time,
and hear how she is getting on."
I shall come and see you."
Then she realized that this sounded too personal,
and she felt foolish.
"Miss Schofield suggested these two books,"
putting a couple of volumes on the table:
"I hope you will like them."
Ursula feeling very shy picked up the books.
There was a volume of Swinburne's poetry,
and a volume of Meredith's.
I shall love them,"
"Thank you very much --thank you all so much --it is so -- --"
She stuttered to an end,
and very red,
turned the leaves of the books eagerly,
pretending to be taking the first pleasure,
but really seeing nothing.
Mr. Harby's eyes were twinkling.
He alone was at his ease,
master of the situation.
It was pleasing to him to make Ursula the gift,
and for once extend good feeling to his teachers.
As a rule,
it was so difficult,
each one was so strained in resentment under his rule.
"we hoped you would like the choice -- --"
He looked with his peculiar,
challenging smile for a moment,
then returned to his cupboards.
Ursula felt very confused.
She hugged her books,
And she felt that she loved all the teachers,
and Mr. Harby.
It was very confusing.
At last she was out.
She cast one hasty glance over the school buildings squatting on the asphalt yard in the hot,
one look down the well-known road,
and turned her back on it all.
Something strained in her heart.
She was going away.
said the last of the teachers,
as she shook hands at the end of the road.
"We'll expect you back some day."
He spoke in irony.
and broke away.
She was free.
As she sat on the top of the tram in the sunlight,
she looked round her with tremendous delight.
She had left something which had meant much to her.
She would not go to school any more,
and do the familiar things.
There was a little pang amid her exultation,
not of regret.
Yet how she exulted this morning!
She was tremulous with pride and joy.
She loved the two books.
They were tokens to her,
representing the fruit and trophies of her two years which,
"To Ursula Brangwen,
with best wishes for her future,
and in warm memory of the time she spent in St. Philip's School,"
was written in the headmaster's neat,
She could see the careful hand holding the pen,
the thick fingers with tufts of black hair on the back of each one.
He had signed,
all the teachers had signed.
She liked having all their signatures.
She felt she loved them all.
They were her fellow-workers.
She carried away from the school a pride she could never lose.
She had her place as comrade and sharer in the work of the school,
her fellow teachers had signed to her,
as one of them.
And she was one of all workers,
she had put in her tiny brick to the fabric man was building,
she had qualified herself as co-builder.
Then the day for the home removal came.
Ursula rose early,
to pack up the remaining goods.
The carts arrived,
lent by her uncle at the Marsh,
in the lull between hay and corn harvest.
The goods roped in the cart,
Ursula mounted her bicycle and sped away to Beldover.
The house was hers.
She entered its clean-scrubbed silence.
The dining-room had been covered with a thick rush matting,
hard and of the beautiful,
clean colour of sun-dried reeds.
The walls were pale grey,
the doors were darker grey.
Ursula admired it very much,
as the sun came through the large windows,
She flung open doors and windows to the sunshine.
Flowers were bright and shining round the small lawn,
which stood above the road,
looking over the raw field opposite,
which would later be built upon.
No one came.
So she wandered down the garden at the back of the wall.
The eight bells of the church rang the hour.
She could hear the many sounds of the town about her.
the cart was seen coming round the corner,
familiar furniture piled undignified on top,
marching on foot beside the mass,
proud of having walked ten miles or more,
from the tram terminus.
Ursula poured out beer,
and the men drank thirstily,
by the door.
A second cart was coming.
Her father appeared on his motor bicycle.
There was the staggering transport of furniture up the steps to the little lawn,
where it was deposited all pell-mell in the sunshine,
very queer and discomforting.
Brangwen was a pleasant man to work with,
cheerful and easy.
Ursula loved deciding him where the heavy things should stand.
She watched anxiously the struggle up the steps and through the doorways.
Then the big things were in,
the carts set off again.
Ursula and her father worked away carrying in all the light things that remained upon the lawn,
and putting them in place.
Dinner time came.
They ate bread and cheese in the kitchen.
we're getting on,"
Two more loads arrived.
The afternoon passed away in a struggle with the furniture,
Towards five o'clock,
appeared the last loads,
consisting also of Mrs. Brangwen and the younger children,
driven by Uncle Fred in the trap.
Gudrun had walked with Margaret from the station.
The whole family had come.
as his wife got down from the cart:
"Now we're all here."
said his wife pleasantly.
And the very brevity,
the silence of intimacy between the two made a home in the hearts of the children,
who clustered round feeling strange in the new place.
Everything was at sixes and sevens.
But a fire was made in the kitchen,
the hearth-rug put down,
the kettle set on the hob,
and Mrs. Brangwen began towards sunset to prepare the first meal.
Ursula and Gudrun were slaving in the bedrooms,
candles were rushing about.
Then from the kitchen came the smell of ham and eggs and coffee,
and in the gaslight,
the scrambled meal began.
The family seemed to huddle together like a little camp in a strange place.
Ursula felt a load of responsibility upon her,
caring for the half-little ones.
The smallest kept near the mother.
It was dark,
and the children went sleepy but excited to bed.
It was a long time before the sound of voices died out.
There was a tremendous sense of adventure.
In the morning everybody was awake soon after dawn,
the children crying:
"When I wakened up I didn't know where I was."
There were the strange sounds of the town,
and the repeated chiming of the big church bells,
so much harsher and more insistent than the little bells of Cossethay.
They looked through the windows past the other new red houses to the wooded hill across the valley.
They had all a delightful sense of space and liberation,
space and light and air.
But gradually all set to work.
They were a careless,
Yet when once they set about to get the house in order,
the thing went with felicity and quickness.
By evening the place was roughly established.
They would not have a servant to live in the house,
only a woman who could go home at night.
And they would not even have the woman yet.
They wanted to do as they liked in their own home,
with no stranger in the midst.
THE BITTERNESS OF ECSTASY
A storm of industry raged on in the house.
Ursula did not go to college till October.
with a distinct feeling of responsibility,
as if she must express herself in this house,
she laboured arranging,
She could use her father's ordinary tools,
both for woodwork and metal-work,
so she hammered and tinkered.
Her mother was quite content to have the thing done.
Brangwen was interested.
He had a ready belief in his daughter.
He himself was at work putting up his work-shed in the garden.
At last she had finished for the time being.
The drawing-room was big and empty.
It had the good Wilton carpet,
of which the family was so proud,
and the large couch and large chairs covered with shiny chintz,
and the piano,
a little sculpture in plaster that Brangwen had done,
and not very much more.
It was too large and empty-feeling for the family to occupy very much.
Yet they liked to know it was there,
large and empty.
The home was the dining-room.
There the hard rush floor-covering made the ground light,
reflecting light upon the bottom their hearts;
in the window-bay was a broad,
the table was so solid one could not jostle it,
and the chairs so strong one could knock them over without hurting them.
The familiar organ that Brangwen had made stood on one side,
looking peculiarly small,
the sideboard was comfortably reduced to normal proportions.
This was the family living-room.
Ursula had a bedroom to herself.
It was really a servants' bedroom,
small and plain.
Its window looked over the back garden at other back gardens,
some of them old and very nice,
some of them littered with packing-cases,
then at the backs of the houses whose fronts were the shops in High Street,
or the genteel homes of the under-manager or the chief cashier,
facing the chapel.
She had six weeks still before going to college.
In this time she nervously read over some Latin and some botany,
and fitfully worked at some mathematics.
She was going into college as a teacher,
for her training.
having already taken her matriculation examination,
she was entered for a university course.
At the end of a year she would sit for the Intermediate Arts,
then two years after for her B.A. So her case was not that of the ordinary school-teacher.
She would be working among the private students who came only for pure education,
not for mere professional training.
She would be of the elect.
For the next three years she would be more or less dependent on her parents again.
Her training was free.
All college fees were paid by the government,
she had moreover a few pounds grant every year.
This would just pay for her train fares and her clothing.
Her parents would only have to feed her.
She did not want to cost them much.
They would not be well off.
Her father would earn only two hundred a year,
and a good deal of her mother's capital was spent in buying the house.
there was enough to get along with.
Gudrun was attending the Art School at Nottingham.
She was working particularly at sculpture.
She had a gift for this.
She loved making little models in clay,
of children or of animals.
Already some of these had appeared in the Students' Exhibition in the Castle,
and Gudrun was a distinguished person.
She was chafing at the Art School and wanted to go to London.
But there was not enough money.
Neither would her parents let her go so far.
Theresa had left the High School.
She was a great strapping,
indifferent to all higher claims.
She would stay at home.
The others were at school,
except the youngest.
When term started,
they would all be transferred to the Grammar School at Willey Green.
Ursula was excited at making acquaintances in Beldover.
The excitement soon passed.
She had tea at the clergyman's,
at the chemist's,
at the other chemist's,
at the doctor's,
at the under-manager's --then she knew practically everybody.
She could not take people very seriously,
though at the time she wanted to.
She wandered the country,
on foot and on her bicycle,
finding it very beautiful in the forest direction,
between Mansfield and Southwell and Worksop.
But she was here only skirmishing for amusement.
Her real exploration would begin in college.
She went into town each day by train.
The cloistered quiet of the college began to close around her.
She was not at first disappointed.
The big college built of stone,
standing in the quiet street,
with a rim of grass and lime trees all so peaceful: she felt it remote,
a magic land.
Its architecture was foolish,
she knew from her father.
it was different from that of all other buildings.
Its rather pretty,
Gothic form was almost a style,
in the dirty industrial town.
She liked the hall,
with its big stone chimney-piece and its Gothic arches supporting the balcony above.
To be sure the arches were ugly,
the chimney-piece of cardboard-like carved stone,
with its armorial decoration,
looked silly just opposite the bicycle stand and the radiator,
whilst the great notice-board with its fluttering papers seemed to slam away all sense of retreat and mystery from the far wall.
amorphous as it might be,
there was in it a reminiscence of the wondrous,
cloistral origin of education.
Her soul flew straight back to the medieval times,
when the monks of God held the learning of men and imparted it within the shadow of religion.
In this spirit she entered college.
The harshness and vulgarity of the lobbies and cloak-rooms hurt her at first.
Why was it not all beautiful?
But she could not openly admit her criticism.
She was on holy ground.
She wanted all the students to have a high,
she wanted them to say only the real,
she wanted their faces to be still and luminous as the nuns' and the monks' faces.
the girls chattered and giggled and were nervous,
they were dressed up and frizzed,
the men looked mean and clownish.
it was lovely to pass along the corridor with one's books in one's hands,
to push the swinging,
and enter the big room where the first lecture would be given.
The windows were large and lofty,
the myriad brown students' desks stood waiting,
the great blackboard was smooth behind the rostrum.
Ursula sat beside her window,
rather far back.
she saw the lime trees turning yellow,
the tradesman's boy passing silent down the still,
There was the world,
within the great,
that whispered all the while with reminiscence of all the centuries,
time faded away,
and the echo of knowledge filled the timeless silence.
she scribbled her notes with joy,
almost with ecstasy,
never for a moment criticizing what she heard.
The lecturer was a mouth-piece,
As he stood,
on the rostrum,
some strands of the whispering confusion of knowledge that filled the whole place seemed to be singled out and woven together by him,
till they became a lecture.
she preserved herself from criticism.
She would not consider the professors as men,
ordinary men who ate bacon,
and pulled on their boots before coming to college.
They were the black-gowned priests of knowledge,
serving for ever in a remote,
They were the initiated,
and the beginning and the end of the mystery was in their keeping.
Curious joy she had of the lectures.
It was a joy to hear the theory of education,
there was such freedom and pleasure in ranging over the very stuff of knowledge,
and seeing how it moved and lived and had its being.
How happy Racine made her!
She did not know why.
But as the big lines of the drama unfolded themselves,
she felt a thrill as of being in the realm of the reality.
she was doing Livy and Horace.
gossiping tone of the Latin class suited Horace.
Yet she never cared for him,
nor even Livy.
There was an entire lack of sternness in the gossipy class-room.
She tried hard to keep her old grasp of the Roman spirit.
But gradually the Latin became mere gossip-stuff and artificiality to her,
a question of manners and verbosities.
Her terror was the mathematics class.
The lecturer went so fast,
her heart beat excitedly,
she seemed to be straining every nerve.
And she struggled hard,
during private study,
to get the stuff into control.
Then came the lovely,
peaceful afternoons in the botany laboratory.
There were few students.
How she loved to sit on her high stool before the bench,
with her pith and her razor and her material,
carefully mounting her slides,
carefully bringing her microscope into focus,
then turning with joy to record her observation,
drawing joyfully in her book,
if the slide were good.
She soon made a college friend,
a girl who had lived in Florence,
a girl who wore a wonderful purple or figured scarf draped over a plain,
She was Dorothy Russell,
daughter of a south-country advocate.
Dorothy lived with a maiden aunt in Nottingham,
and spent her spare moments slaving for the Women's Social and Political Union.
She was quiet and intense,
with an ivory face and dark hair looped plain over her ears.
Ursula was very fond of her,
but afraid of her.
She seemed so old and so relentless towards herself.
Yet she was only twenty-two.
Ursula always felt her to be a creature of fate,
The two girls had a close,
Dorothy worked at all things with the same passion,
never sparing herself.
She came closest to Ursula during the botany hours.
For she could not draw.
Ursula made beautiful and wonderful drawings of the sections under the microscope,
and Dorothy always came to learn the manner of the drawing.
So the first year went by,
in magnificent seclusion and activity of learning.
It was strenuous as a battle,
her college life,
yet remote as peace.
She came to Nottingham in the morning with Gudrun.
The two sisters were distinguished wherever they went,
eager and extremely sensitive.
Gudrun was the more beautiful of the two,
with her sleepy,
half-languid girlishness that looked so soft,
and yet was balanced and inalterable underneath.
She wore soft,
and hats which fell by themselves into a careless grace.
Ursula was much more carefully dressed,
but she was self-conscious,
always falling into depths of admiration of somebody else,
and modelling herself upon this other,
and so producing a hopeless incongruity.
When she dressed for practical purposes she always looked well.
wearing a tweed coat-and-skirt and a small hat of black fur pulled over her eager,
she seemed to move down the street in a drifting motion of suspense and exceeding sensitive receptivity.
At the end of the first year Ursula got through her Intermediate Arts examination,
and there came a lull in her eager activities.
She slackened off,
she relaxed altogether.
Worn nervous and inflammable by the excitement of the preparation for the examination,
and by the sort of exaltation which carried her through the crisis itself,
she now fell into a quivering passivity,
her will all loosened.
The family went to Scarborough for a month.
Gudrun and the father were busy at the handicraft holiday school there,
Ursula was left a good deal with the children.
But when she could,
she went off by herself.
She stood and looked out over the shining sea.
It was very beautiful to her.
The tears rose hot in her heart.
Out of the far,
far space there drifted slowly in to her a passionate,
"There are so many dawns that have not yet risen."
It seemed as if,
from over the edge of the sea,
all the unrisen dawns were appealing to her,
all her unborn soul was crying for the unrisen dawns.
As she sat looking out at the tender sea,
with its lovely,
the sob rose in her breast,
till she caught her lip suddenly under her teeth,
and the tears were forcing themselves from her.
And in her very sob,
Why did she cry?
She did not want to cry.
It was so beautiful that she laughed.
It was so beautiful that she cried.
She glanced apprehensively round,
hoping no one would see her in this state.
Then came a time when the sea was rough.
She watched the water travelling in to the coast,
she watched a big wave running unnoticed,
to burst in a shock of foam against a rock,
enveloping all in a great white beauty,
to pour away again,
leaving the rock emerged black and teeming.
when the wave burst into whiteness,
it were only set free!
Sometimes she loitered along the harbour,
looking at the sea-browned sailors,
in their close blue jerseys,
lounged on the harbour-wall,
and laughed at her with impudent,
There was established a little relation between her and them.
She never would speak to them or know any more of them.
Yet as she walked by and they leaned on the sea-wall,
there was something between her and them,
something keen and delightful and painful.
She liked best the young one whose fair,
salty hair tumbled over his blue eyes.
He was so new and fresh and salt and not of this world.
From Scarborough she went to her Uncle Tom's.
Winifred had a small baby,
born at the end of the summer.
She had become strange and alien to Ursula.
There was an unmentionable reserve between the two women.
Tom Brangwen was an attentive father,
a very domestic husband.
But there was something spurious about his domesticity,
Ursula did not like him any more.
blatant in his nature had come out now,
making him shift everything over to a sentimental basis.
A materialistic unbeliever,
he carried it all off by becoming full of human feeling,
a generous husband,
a model citizen.
And he was clever enough to rouse admiration everywhere,
and to take in his wife sufficiently.
She did not love him.
She was glad to live in a state of complacent self-deception with him,
she worked according to him.
Ursula was relieved to go home.
She had still two peaceful years before her.
Her future was settled for two years.
She returned to college to prepare for her final examination.
But during this year the glamour began to depart from college.
The professors were not priests initiated into the deep mysteries of life and knowledge.
they were only middle-men handling wares they had become so accustomed to that they were oblivious of them.
What was Latin?
--So much dry goods of knowledge.
What was the Latin class altogether but a sort of second-hand curio shop,
where one bought curios and learned the market-value of curios;
dull curios too,
on the whole.
She was as bored by the Latin curiosities as she was by Chinese and Japanese curiosities in the antique shops.
"Antiques" --the very word made her soul fall flat and dead.
The life went out of her studies,
she did not know.
But the whole thing seemed sham,
spurious Gothic arches,
spurious dignity of France,
spurious naivete of Chaucer.
It was a second-hand dealer's shop,
and one bought an equipment for an examination.
This was only a little side-show to the factories of the town.
Gradually the perception stole into her.
This was no religious retreat,
no perception of pure learning.
It was a little apprentice-shop where one was further equipped for making money.
The college itself was a little,
slovenly laboratory for the factory.
A harsh and ugly disillusion came over her again,
the same darkness and bitter gloom from which she was never safe now,
the realization of the permanent substratum of ugliness under everything.
As she came to the college in the afternoon,
the lawns were frothed with daisies,
the lime trees hung tender and sunlit and green;
white froth of the daisies was anguish to see.
inside the college,
she knew she must enter the sham workshop.
All the while,
it was a sham store,
a sham warehouse,
with a single motive of material gain,
and no productivity.
It pretended to exist by the religious virtue of knowledge.
But the religious virtue of knowledge was become a flunkey to the god of material success.
A sort of inertia came over her.
she went on with her studies.
But it was almost hopeless.
She could scarcely attend to anything.
At the Anglo-Saxon lecture in the afternoon,
she sat looking down,
out of the window,
hearing no word,
of Beowulf or of anything else.
in the street,
the sunny grey pavement went beside the palisade.
A woman in a pink frock,
with a scarlet sunshade,
crossed the road,
a little white dog running like a fleck of light about her.
The woman with the scarlet sunshade came over the road,
a lilt in her walk,
a little shadow attending her.
Ursula watched spell-bound.
The woman with the scarlet sunshade and the flickering terrier was gone --and whither?
In what world of reality was the woman in the pink dress walking?
To what warehouse of dead unreality was she herself confined?
What good was this place,
What good was Anglo-Saxon,
when one only learned it in order to answer examination questions,
in order that one should have a higher commercial value later on?
She was sick with this long service at the inner commercial shrine.
Yet what else was there?
Was life all this,
and this only?
everything was debased to the same service.
Everything went to produce vulgar things,
to encumber material life.
Suddenly she threw over French.
She would take honours in botany.
This was the one study that lived for her.
She had entered into the lives of the plants.
She was fascinated by the strange laws of the vegetable world.
She had here a glimpse of something working entirely apart from the purpose of the human world.
College was barren,
a temple converted to the most vulgar,
Had she not gone to hear the echo of learning pulsing back to the source of the mystery?
--The source of mystery!
the professors in their gowns offered commercial commodity that could be turned to good account in the examination room;
ready-made stuff too,
and not really worth the money it was intended to fetch;
which they all knew.
All the time in the college now,
save when she was labouring in her botany laboratory,
for there the mystery still glimmered,
she felt she was degrading herself in a kind of trade of sham jewjaws.
Angry and stiff,
she went through her last term.
She would rather be out again earning her own living.
Even Brinsley Street and Mr. Harby seemed real in comparison.
Her violent hatred of the Ilkeston School was nothing compared with the sterile degradation of college.
But she was not going back to Brinsley Street either.
She would take her B.A.,
and become a mistress in some Grammar School for a time.
The last year of her college career was wheeling slowly round.
She could see ahead her examination and her departure.
She had the ash of disillusion gritting under her teeth.
Would the next move turn out the same?
Always the shining doorway ahead;
always the shining doorway was a gate into another ugly yard,
dirty and active and dead.
Always the crest of the hill gleaming ahead under heaven: and then,
from the top of the hill only another sordid valley full of amorphous,
Every hill-top was a little different,
every valley was somehow new.
Cossethay and her childhood with her father;
the Marsh and the little Church school near the Marsh,
and her grandmother and her uncles;
the High School at Nottingham and Anton Skrebensky;
Anton Skrebensky and the dance in the moonlight between the fires;
then the time she could not think of without being blasted,
and the months before becoming a school-teacher;
then the horrors of Brinsley Street,
lapsing into comparative peacefulness,
and Maggie's brother,
whose influence she could still feel in her veins,
when she conjured him up;
and Dorothy Russell,
who was now in France,
then the next move into the world again!
Already it was a history.
In every phase she was so different.
Yet she was always Ursula Brangwen.
But what did it mean,
She did not know what she was.
Only she was full of rejection,
always she was spitting out of her mouth the ash and grit of disillusion,
She could only stiffen in rejection,
She seemed always negative in her action.
That which she was,
was dark and unrevealed,
it could not come forth.
It was like a seed buried in dry ash.
This world in which she lived was like a circle lighted by a lamp.
This lighted area,
lit up by man's completest consciousness,
she thought was all the world: that here all was disclosed for ever.
Yet all the time,
within the darkness she had been aware of points of light,
like the eyes of wild beasts,
And her soul had acknowledged in a great heave of terror only the outer darkness.
This inner circle of light in which she lived and moved,
wherein the trains rushed and the factories ground out their machine-produce and the plants and the animals worked by the light of science and knowledge,
suddenly it seemed like the area under an arc-lamp,
wherein the moths and children played in the security of blinding light,
not even knowing there was any darkness,
because they stayed in the light.
But she could see the glimmer of dark movement just out of range,
she saw the eyes of the wild beast gleaming from the darkness,
watching the vanity of the camp fire and the sleepers;
she felt the strange,
foolish vanity of the camp,
which said "Beyond our light and our order there is nothing,"
turning their faces always inward towards the sinking fire of illuminating consciousness,
which comprised sun and stars,
and the Creator,
and the System of Righteousness,
ignoring always the vast darkness that wheeled round about,
with half-revealed shapes lurking on the edge.
and no man dared even throw a firebrand into the darkness.
For if he did he was jeered to death by the others,
who cried "Fool,
why would you disturb us with bogeys?
There is no darkness.
We move and live and have our being within the light,
and unto us is given the eternal light of knowledge,
we comprise and comprehend the innermost core and issue of knowledge.
Fool and knave,
how dare you belittle us with the darkness?"
Nevertheless the darkness wheeled round about,
with grey shadow-shapes of wild beasts,
and also with dark shadow-shapes of the angels,
whom the light fenced out,
as it fenced out the more familiar beasts of darkness.
having for a moment seen the darkness,
saw it bristling with the tufts of the hyena and the wolf;
and some having given up their vanity of the light,
having died in their own conceit,
saw the gleam in the eyes of the wolf and the hyena,
that it was the flash of the sword of angels,
flashing at the door to come in,
that the angels in the darkness were lordly and terrible and not to be denied,
like the flash of fangs.
It was a little while before Easter,
in her last year of college,
when Ursula was twenty-two years old,
that she heard again from Skrebensky.
He had written to her once or twice from South Africa,
during the first months of his service out there in the war,
and since had sent her a post-card every now and then,
at ever longer intervals.
He had become a first lieutenant,
and had stayed out in Africa.
She had not heard of him now for more than two years.
Often her thoughts returned to him.
He seemed like the gleaming dawn,
of a long,
The memory of him was like the thought of the first radiant hours of morning.
And here was the blank grey ashiness of later daytime.
if he had only remained true to her,
she might have known the sunshine,
without all this toil and hurt and degradation of a spoiled day.
He would have been her angel.
He held the keys of the sunshine.
Still he held them.
He could open to her the gates of succeeding freedom and delight.
if he had remained true to her,
he would have been the doorway to her,
into the boundless sky of happiness and plunging,
inexhaustible freedom which was the paradise of her soul.
the great range he would have opened to her,
the illimitable endless space for self-realization and delight for ever.
The one thing she believed in was in the love she had held for him.
It remained shining and complete,
a thing to hark back to.
And she said to herself,
when present things seemed a failure:
I was fond of him,"
as if with him the leading flower of her life had died.
Now she heard from him again.
The chief effect was pain.
the spontaneous joy was not there any longer.
But her will rejoiced.
Her will had fixed itself to him.
And the old excitement of her dreams stirred and woke up.
He was come,
the man with the wondrous lips that could send the kiss wavering to the very end of all space.
Was he come back to her?
She did not believe.
My dear Ursula,
I am back in England again for a few months before going out again,
this time to India.
I wonder if you still keep the memory of our times together.
I have still got the little photograph of you.
You must be changed since then,
for it is about six years ago.
I am fully six years older,
--I have lived through another life since I knew you at Cossethay.
I wonder if you would care to see me.
I shall come up to Derby next week,
and I would call in Nottingham,
and we might have tea together.
Will you let me know?
I shall look for your answer.
Ursula had taken this letter from the rack in the hall at college,
and torn it open as she crossed to the Women's room.
The world seemed to dissolve away from around her,
she stood alone in clear air.
Where could she go,
to be alone?
She fled away,
and through the private way to the reference library.
Seizing a book,
she sat down and pondered the letter.
Her heart beat,
her limbs trembled.
As in a dream,
she heard one gong sound in the college,
The first lecture had gone by.
Hurriedly she took one of her note-books and began to write.
I still have the ring.
I should be very glad to see you again.
You can come here to college for me,
or I will meet you somewhere in the town.
Will you let me know?
Your sincere friend -- --"
she asked the librarian,
who was her friend,
if he would give her an envelope.
She sealed and addressed her letter,
and went out,
to post it.
When it was dropped into the pillar-box,
the world became a very still,
She wandered back to college,
to her pale dream,
like a first wan light of dawn.
Skrebensky came one afternoon the following week.
Day after day,
she had hurried swiftly to the letter-rack on her arrival at college in the morning,
and during the intervals between lectures.
with secretive fingers,
she had plucked his letter down from its public prominence,
and fled across the hall holding it fast and hidden.
She read her letters in the botany laboratory,
where her corner was always reserved to her.
and then he was coming.
It was Friday afternoon he appointed.
She worked over her microscope with feverish activity,
able to give only half her attention,
yet working closely and rapidly.
She had on her slide some special stuff come up from London that day,
and the professor was fussy and excited about it.
At the same time,
as she focused the light on her field,
and saw the plant-animal lying shadowy in a boundless light,
she was fretting over a conversation she had had a few days ago with Dr. Frankstone,
who was a woman doctor of physics in the college.
Dr. Frankstone had said,
"I don't see why we should attribute some special mystery to life --do you?
We don't understand it as we understand electricity,
but that doesn't warrant our saying it is something special,
something different in kind and distinct from everything else in the universe --do you think it does?
May it not be that life consists in a complexity of physical and chemical activities,
of the same order as the activities we already know in science?
I don't see,
why we should imagine there is a special order of life,
and life alone -- --"
The conversation had ended on a note of uncertainty,
But the purpose,
what was the purpose?
Electricity had no soul,
light and heat had no soul.
Was she herself an impersonal force,
or conjunction of forces,
like one of these?
She looked still at the unicellular shadow that lay within the field of light,
under her microscope.
It was alive.
She saw it move --she saw the bright mist of its ciliary activity,
she saw the gleam of its nucleus,
as it slid across the plane of light.
What then was its will?
If it was a conjunction of forces,
physical and chemical,
what held these forces unified,
and for what purpose were they unified?
For what purpose were the incalculable physical and chemical activities nodalized in this shadowy,
moving speck under her microscope?
What was the will which nodalized them and created the one thing she saw?
What was its intention?
To be itself?
Was its purpose just mechanical and limited to itself?
It intended to be itself.
But what self?
Suddenly in her mind the world gleamed strangely,
with an intense light,
like the nucleus of the creature under the microscope.
Suddenly she had passed away into an intensely-gleaming light of knowledge.
She could not understand what it all was.
She only knew that it was not limited mechanical energy,
nor mere purpose of self-preservation and self-assertion.
It was a consummation,
a being infinite.
Self was a oneness with the infinite.
To be oneself was a supreme,
gleaming triumph of infinity.
Ursula sat abstracted over her microscope,
Her soul was busy,
in the new world.
In the new world,
Skrebensky was waiting for her --he would be waiting for her.
She could not go yet,
because her soul was engaged.
Soon she would go.
like passing away,
took hold of her.
down the corridors,
she heard the gong booming five o'clock.
She must go.
Yet she sat still.
The other students were pushing back their stools and putting their microscopes away.
Everything broke into turmoil.
through the window,
students going down the steps,
with books under their arms,
A great craving to depart came upon her.
She wanted also to be gone.
She was in dread of the material world,
and in dread of her own transfiguration.
She wanted to run to meet Skrebensky --the new life,
Very rapidly she wiped her slides and put them back,
cleared her place at the bench,
She wanted to run to meet Skrebensky,
She did not know what she was to meet.
But it would be a new beginning.
She must hurry.
She flitted down the corridor on swift feet,
her razor and note-books and pencil in one hand,
her pinafore over her arm.
Her face was lifted and tense with eagerness.
He might not be there.
Issuing from the corridor,
she saw him at once.
She knew him at once.
Yet he was so strange.
He stood with the curious self-effacing diffidence which so frightened her in well-bred young men whom she knew.
He stood as if he wished to be unseen.
He was very well-dressed.
She would not admit to herself the chill like a sunshine of frost that came over her.
This was he,
the nucleus to the new world.
He saw her coming swiftly across the hall,
a slim girl in a white flannel blouse and dark skirt,
with some of the abstraction and gleam of the unknown upon her,
and he started,
He was very nervous.
Other students were loitering about the hall.
with a blind,
as she gave him her hand.
He too could not perceive her.
In a moment she was gone,
to get her outdoor things.
as when she had been at school,
they walked out into the town to tea.
And they went to the same tea-shop.
She knew a great difference in him.
The kinship was there,
the old kinship,
but he had belonged to a different world from hers.
It was as if they had cried a state of truce between him and her,
and in this truce they had met.
in the first minute,
that they were enemies come together in a truce.
Every movement and word of his was alien to her being.
Yet still she loved the fine texture of his face,
of his skin.
He was rather browner,
He was a man now.
She thought his manliness made the strangeness in him.
When he was only a youth,
he was nearer to her.
She thought a man must inevitably set into this strange separateness,
cold otherness of being.
but not to her.
She tried to speak to him,
but she could not reach him.
He seemed so balanced and sure,
he made such a confident presence.
He was a great rider,
so there was about him some of a horseman's sureness and habitual definiteness of decision,
also some of the horseman's animal darkness.
Yet his soul was only the more wavering,
He seemed made up of a set of habitual actions and decisions.
variable quick of the man was inaccessible.
She knew nothing of it.
She could only feel the dark,
heavy fixity of his animal desire.
This dumb desire on his part had brought him to her?
She was puzzled,
hurt by some hopeless fixity in him,
that terrified her with a cold feeling of despair.
What did he want?
His desires were so underground.
Why did he not admit himself?
What did he want?
He wanted something that should be nameless.
She shrank in fear.
Yet she flashed with excitement.
In his dark,
subterranean male soul,
he was kneeling before her,
darkly exposing himself.
the dark flame ran over her.
He was waiting at her feet.
He was helpless,
at her mercy.
She could take or reject.
If she rejected him,
something would die in him.
For him it was life or death.
all must be kept so dark,
the consciousness must admit nothing.
"are you staying in England?"
"I am not sure --but not later than July,
Then they were both silent.
He was here,
for six months.
They had a space of six months between them.
The same iron rigidity,
as if the world were made of steel,
possessed her again.
It was no use turning with flesh and blood to this arrangement of forged metal.
her imagination adjusted itself to the situation.
"Have you an appointment in India?"
"Yes --I have just the six months' leave."
"Will you like being out there?"
"I think so --there's a good deal of social life,
and plenty going on --hunting,
polo --and always a good horse --and plenty of work,
any amount of work."
He was always side-tracking,
always side-tracking his own soul.
She could see him so well out there,
in India --one of the governing class,
superimposed upon an old civilization,
lord and master of a clumsier civilization than his own.
It was his choice.
He would become again an aristocrat,
invested with authority and responsibility,
having a great helpless populace beneath him.
One of the ruling class,
his whole being would be given over to the fulfilling and the executing of the better idea of the state.
And in India,
there would be real work to do.
The country did need the civilization which he himself represented: it did need his roads and bridges,
and the enlightenment of which he was part.
He would go to India.
But that was not her road.
Yet she loved him,
the body of him,
whatever his decisions might be.
He seemed to want something of her.
He was waiting for her to decide of him.
It had been decided in her long ago,
when he had kissed her first.
He was her lover,
though good and evil should cease.
Her will never relaxed,
though her heart and soul must be imprisoned and silenced.
He waited upon her,
and she accepted him.
For he had come back to her.
A glow came into his face,
into his fine,
glowed intimately to her.
He burned up,
he caught fire and became splendid,
something like a tiger.
She caught his brilliant,
Her heart and her soul were shut away fast down below,
She was free of them.
She was to have her satisfaction.
She became proud and erect,
like a flower,
putting itself forth in its proper strength.
His warmth invigorated her.
His beauty of form,
which seemed to glow out in contrast with the rest of people,
made her proud.
It was like deference to her,
and made her feel as if she represented before him all the grace and flower of humanity.
She was no mere Ursula Brangwen.
She was Woman,
she was the whole of Woman in the human order.
how should she be limited to individuality?
She was exhilarated,
she did not want to go away from him.
She had her place by him.
Who should take her away?
They came out of the cafe.
"Is there anything you would like to do?"
"Is there anything we can do?"
It was a dark,
windy night in March.
"There is nothing to do,"
Which was the answer he wanted.
"Let us walk then --where shall we walk?"
"Shall we go to the river?"
In a moment they were on the tram,
going down to Trent Bridge.
She was so glad.
The thought of walking in the dark,
beside the full river,
Dark water flowing in silence through the big,
restless night made her feel wild.
They crossed the bridge,
and went away from the lights.
In an instant,
in the darkness,
he took her hand and they went in silence,
with subtle feet treading the darkness.
The town fumed away on their left,
there were strange lights and sounds,
the wind rushed against the trees,
and under the bridge.
They walked close together,
powerful in unison.
He drew her very close,
held her with a subtle,
as if they had a secret agreement which held good in the profound darkness.
The profound darkness was their universe.
"It is like it was before,"
Yet it was not in the least as it was before.
Nevertheless his heart was perfectly in accord with her.
They thought one thought.
"I knew I should come back,"
he said at length.
"Did you always love me?"
The directness of the question overcame him,
submerged him for a moment.
The darkness travelled massively along.
"I had to come back to you,"
as if hypnotized.
"You were always at the back of everything."
She was silent with triumph,
"I loved you,"
The dark flame leaped up in him.
He must give her himself.
He must give her the very foundations of himself.
He drew her very close,
and they went on in silence.
She started violently,
They were near a stile across the dark meadows.
"It's only lovers,"
he said to her,
She looked to see the dark figures against the fence,
wondering that the darkness was inhabited.
"Only lovers will walk here to-night,"
Then in a low,
vibrating voice he told her about Africa,
the strange darkness,
"I am not afraid of the darkness in England,"
"It is soft,
and natural to me,
it is my medium,
especially when you are here.
But in Africa it seems massive and fluid with terror --not fear of anything --just fear.
One breathes it,
like the smell of blood.
The blacks know it.
They worship it,
One almost likes it --the fear --something sensual."
She thrilled again to him.
He was to her a voice out of the darkness.
He talked to her all the while,
in low tones,
conveying something strange and sensual to her: the negro,
with his loose,
soft passion that could envelop one like a bath.
Gradually he transferred to her the hot,
fecund darkness that possessed his own blood.
He was strangely secret.
The whole world must be abolished.
He maddened her with his soft,
He wanted her to answer,
heavy with fecundity in which every molecule of matter grew big with increase,
secretly urgent with fecund desire,
seemed to come to pass.
taut and vibrating,
he ceased telling her of Africa,
there came a silence,
whilst they walked the darkness beside the massive river.
Her limbs were rich and tense,
she felt they must be vibrating with a low,
She could scarcely walk.
The deep vibration of the darkness could only be felt,
as they walked,
she turned to him and held him fast,
as if she were turned to steel.
"Do you love me?"
she cried in anguish.
in a curious,
I love you."
He seemed like the living darkness upon her,
she was in the embrace of the strong darkness.
He held her enclosed,
and with the unrelaxing softness of fate,
the relentless softness of fecundity.
like a tense thing that is struck.
But he held her all the time,
like darkness closed upon her,
omnipresent as the night.
He kissed her,
and she quivered as if she were being destroyed,
The lighted vessel vibrated,
and broke in her soul,
the light fell,
and went dark.
She was all dark,
having only the receptive will.
He kissed her,
with his soft,
and she responded to them completely,
her soul gone out.
Darkness cleaving to darkness,
she hung close to him,
pressed herself into soft flow of his kiss,
pressed herself down,
down to the source and core of his kiss,
herself covered and enveloped in the warm,
fecund flow of his kiss,
that travelled over her,
flowed over her,
flowed over the last fibre of her,
so they were one stream,
one dark fecundity,
and she clung at the core of him,
with her lips holding open the very bottommost source of him.
So they stood in the utter,
that triumphed over them both,
knitted them into one fecund nucleus of the fluid darkness.
It was bliss,
it was the nucleolating of the fecund darkness.
Once the vessel had vibrated till it was shattered,
the light of consciousness gone,
then the darkness reigned,
and the unutterable satisfaction.
They stood enjoying the unmitigated kiss,
giving to it endlessly,
and still it was not exhausted.
Their veins fluttered,
their blood ran together as one stream.
Till gradually a sleep,
a heaviness settled on them,
and out of the drowse,
a small light of consciousness woke up.
Ursula became aware of the night around her,
the water lapping and running full just near,
the trees roaring and soughing in gusts of wind.
She kept near to him,
in contact with him,
but she became ever more and more herself.
And she knew she must go to catch her train.
But she did not want to draw away from contact with him.
At length they roused and set out.
No longer they existed in the unblemished darkness.
There was the glitter of a bridge,
the twinkle of lights across the river,
the big flare of the town in front and on their right.
dark and soft and incontestable,
their bodies walked untouched by the lights,
darkness supreme and arrogant.
"The stupid lights,"
Ursula said to herself,
in her dark sensual arrogance.
fuming its lights.
It does not exist really.
It rests upon the unlimited darkness,
like a gleam of coloured oil on dark water,
but what is it?
In the tram,
in the train,
she felt the same.
the civic uniform was a trick played,
the people as they moved or sat were only dummies exposed.
She could see,
beneath their pale,
wooden pretence of composure and civic purposefulness,
the dark stream that contained them all.
They were like little paper ships in their motion.
But in reality each one was a dark,
eager wave urging blindly forward,
dark with the same homogeneous desire.
And all their talk and all their behaviour was sham,
they were dressed-up creatures.
She was reminded of the Invisible Man,
who was a piece of darkness made visible only by his clothes.
During the next weeks,
all the time she went about in the same dark richness,
her eyes dilated and shining like the eyes of a wild animal,
a curious half-smile which seemed to be gibing at the civic pretence of all the human life about her.
"What are you,
you pale citizens?"
her face seemed to say,
"You subdued beast in sheep's clothing,
you primeval darkness falsified to a social mechanism."
She went about in the sensual sub-consciousness all the time,
mocking at the ready-made,
artificial daylight of the rest.
"They assume selves as they assume suits of clothing,"
she said to herself,
looking in mocking contempt at the stiffened,
"They think it better to be clerks or professors than to be the dark,
fertile beings that exist in the potential darkness.
What do you think you are?"
her soul asked of the professor as she sat opposite him in class.
"What do you think you are,
as you sit there in your gown and your spectacles?
You are a lurking,
blood-sniffing creature with eyes peering out of the jungle darkness,
snuffing for your desires.
That is what you are,
though nobody would believe it,
and you would be the very last to allow it."
Her soul mocked at all this pretence.
she kept on pretending.
She dressed herself and made herself fine,
she attended her lectures and scribbled her notes.
But all in a mood of superficial,
She understood well enough their two-and-two-make-four tricks.
She was as clever as they were.
--did she care about their monkey tricks of knowledge or learning or civic deportment?
She did not care in the least.
There was Skrebensky,
there was her dark,
Outside the college,
the outer darkness,
Skrebensky was waiting.
On the edge of the night,
he was attentive.
Did he care?
She was free as a leopard that sends up its raucous cry in the night.
She had the potent,
dark stream of her own blood,
she had the glimmering core of fecundity,
she had her mate,
her sharer in fruition.
she had all,
Skrebensky was staying in Nottingham all the time.
He too was free.
He knew no one in this town,
he had no civic self to maintain.
He was free.
Their trams and markets and theatres and public meetings were a shaken kaleidoscope to him,
he watched as a lion or a tiger may lie with narrowed eyes watching the people pass before its cage,
the kaleidoscopic unreality of people,
or a leopard lie blinking,
watching the incomprehensible feats of the keepers.
He despised it all --it was all non-existent.
Their good professors,
their good clergymen,
their good political speakers,
earnest women --all the time he felt his soul was grinning,
grinning at the sight of them.
So many performing puppets,
all wood and rag for the performance!
He watched the citizen,
a pillar of society,
saw the stiff goat's legs,
which have become almost stiffened to wood in the desire to make them puppet in their action,
he saw the trousers formed to the puppet-action: man's legs,
but man's legs become rigid and deformed,
He was curiously happy,
The glimmering grin was on his face.
He had no longer any necessity to take part in the performing tricks of the rest.
He had discovered the clue to himself,
he had escaped from the show,
like a wild beast escaped straight back into its jungle.
Having a room in a quiet hotel,
he hired a horse and rode out into the country,
staying sometimes for the night in some village,
and returning the next day.
He felt rich and abundant in himself.
Everything he did was a voluptuous pleasure to him --either to ride on horseback,
or to walk,
or to lie in the sun,
or to drink in a public-house.
He had no use for people,
nor for words.
He had an amused pleasure in everything,
a great sense of voluptuous richness in himself,
and of the fecundity of the universal night he inhabited.
The puppet shapes of people,
their wood-mechanical voices,
he was remote from them.
For there were always his meetings with Ursula.
she did not go to college in the afternoon,
but walked with him instead.
Or he took a motor-car or a dog-cart and they drove into the country,
leaving the car and going away by themselves into the woods.
He had not taken her yet.
they went to the end of each kiss,
each pleasure in intimate contact,
knowing subconsciously that the last was coming.
It was to be their final entry into the source of creation.
She took him home,
and he stayed a week-end at Beldover with her family.
She loved having him in the house.
Strange how he seemed to come into the atmosphere of her family,
with his laughing,
They all loved him,
he was kin to them.
voluptuous mocking presence was meat and joy to the Brangwen household.
For this house was always quivering with darkness,
they put off their puppet form when they came home,
to lie and drowse in the sun.
There was a sense of freedom amongst them all,
of the undercurrent of darkness among them all.
Ursula resented it.
It became distasteful to her.
And she knew that if they understood the real relationship between her and Skrebensky,
her father in particular,
would go mad with rage.
she seemed to be like any other girl who is more or less courted by a man.
And she was like any other girl.
But in her,
the antagonism to the social imposition was for the time complete and final.
every moment of the day,
for his next kiss.
She admitted it to herself in shame and bliss.
until the time came,
When the time came that he should kiss her again,
a prevention was an annihilation to him.
He felt his flesh go grey,
he was heavy with a corpse-like inanition,
he did not exist,
if the time passed unfulfilled.
He came to her finally in a superb consummation.
It was very dark,
and again a windy,
They had come down the lane towards Beldover,
down to the valley.
They were at the end of their kisses,
and there was the silence between them.
They stood as at the edge of a cliff,
with a great darkness beneath.
Coming out of the lane along the darkness,
with the dark space spreading down to the wind,
and the twinkling lights of the station below,
the far-off windy chuff of a shunting train,
the tiny clink-clink-clink of the wagons blown between the wind,
the light of Beldover-edge twinkling upon the blackness of the hill opposite,
the glow of the furnaces along the railway to the right,
their steps began to falter.
They would soon come out of the darkness into the lights.
It was like turning back.
It was unfulfilment.
they lingered on the edge of the darkness,
peering out at the lights and the machine-glimmer beyond.
They could not turn back to the world --they could not.
So lingering along,
they came to a great oak tree by the path.
In all its budding mass it roared to the wind,
and its trunk vibrated in every fibre,
"We will sit down,"
And in the roaring circle under the tree,
that was almost invisible yet whose powerful presence received them,
they lay a moment looking at the twinkling lights on the darkness opposite,
saw the sweeping brand of a train past the edge of their darkened field.
Then he turned and kissed her,
and she waited for him.
The pain to her was the pain she wanted,
the agony was the agony she wanted.
She was caught up,
entangled in the powerful vibration of the night.
what was he?
powerful vibration that encompassed her.
She passed away as on a dark wind,
into the pristine darkness of paradise,
into the original immortality.
She entered the dark fields of immortality.
When she rose,
she felt strangely free,
She was not ashamed,
--why should she be?
He was walking beside her,
the man who had been with her.
She had taken him,
they had been together.
Whither they had gone,
she did not know.
But it was as if she had received another nature.
She belonged to the eternal,
changeless place into which they had leapt together.
Her soul was sure and indifferent of the opinion of the world of artificial light.
As they went up the steps of the foot-bridge over the railway,
and met the train-passengers,
she felt herself belonging to another world,
she walked past them immune,
a whole darkness dividing her from them.
When she went into the lighted dining-room at home,
she was impervious to the lights and the eyes of her parents.
Her everyday self was just the same.
She merely had another,
stronger self that knew the darkness.
This curious separate strength,
that existed in darkness and pride of night,
never forsook her.
She had never been more herself.
It could not occur to her that anybody,
not even the young man of the world,
should have anything at all to do with her permanent self.
As for her temporal,
she let it look after itself.
Her whole soul was implicated with Skrebensky --not the young man of the world,
but the undifferentiated man he was.
She was perfectly sure of herself,
stronger than all the world.
The world was not strong --she was strong.
The world existed only in a secondary sense: --she existed supremely.
She continued at college,
in her ordinary routine,
merely as a cover to her dark,
The fact of herself,
and with her Skrebensky,
was so powerful,
that she took rest in the other.
She went to college in the morning,
and attended her classes,
She had lunch with him in his hotel;
every evening she spent with him,
either in town,
at his rooms,
or in the country.
She made the excuse at home of evening study for her degree.
But she paid not the slightest attention to her study.
They were both absolute and happy and calm.
The fact of their own consummate being made everything else so entirely subordinate that they were free.
The only thing they wanted,
as the days went by,
was more time to themselves.
They wanted the time to be absolutely their own.
The Easter vacation was approaching.
They agreed to go right away.
It would not matter if they did not come back.
They were indifferent to the actual facts.
"I suppose we ought to get married,"
It was so magnificently free and in a deeper world,
as it was.
To make public their connection would be to put it in range with all the things which nullified him,
and from which he was for the moment entirely dissociated.
If he married he would have to assume his social self.
And the thought of assuming his social self made him at once diffident and abstract.
If she were his social wife,
if she were part of that complication of dead reality,
then what had his under-life to do with her?
One's social wife was almost a material symbol.
Whereas now she was something more vivid to him than anything in conventional life could be.
She gave the complete lie to all conventional life,
he and she stood together,
giving the living lie to the dead whole which contained them.
He watched her pensive,
"I don't think I want to marry you,"
her brow clouded.
It piqued him rather.
"Let's think about it afterwards,
He was crossed,
yet he loved her violently.
"You've got a museau,
not a face,"
her face lighting up like a pure flame.
She thought she had escaped.
Yet he returned --he was not satisfied.
"why don't you want to marry me?"
"I don't want to be with other people,"
"I want to be like this.
I'll tell you if ever I want to marry you."
He would rather the thing was left indefinite,
and that she took the responsibility.
They talked of the Easter vacation.
She thought only of complete enjoyment.
They went to an hotel in Piccadilly.
She was supposed to be his wife.
They bought a wedding-ring for a shilling,
from a shop in a poor quarter.
They had revoked altogether the ordinary mortal world.
Their confidence was like a possession upon them.
They were possessed.
Perfectly and supremely free they felt,
proud beyond all question,
and surpassing mortal conditions.
They were perfect,
therefore nothing else existed.
The world was a world of servants whom one civilly ignored.
Wherever they went,
they were the sensuous aristocrats,
glancing with pure pride of the senses.
The effect upon other people was extraordinary.
The glamour was cast from the young couple upon all they came into contact with,
waiters or chance acquaintances.
Monsieur le baron,"
she would reply with a mocking courtesy to her husband.
So they came to be treated as titled people.
He was an officer in the engineers.
They were just married,
going to India immediately.
Thus a tissue of romance was round them.
She believed she was a young wife of a titled husband on the eve of departure for India.
the social fact,
was a delicious make-belief.
The living fact was that he and she were man and woman,
absolute and beyond all limitation.
The days went by --they were to have three weeks together --in perfect success.
All the time,
they themselves were reality,
all outside was tribute to them.
They were quite careless about money,
but they did nothing very extravagant.
He was rather surprised when he found that he had spent twenty pounds in a little under a week,
but it was only the irritation of having to go to the bank.
The machinery of the old system lasted for him,
not the system.
The money simply did not exist.
Neither did any of the old obligations.
They came home from the theatre,
then flitted about in their dressing-gowns.
They had a large bedroom and a corner sitting-room high up,
remote and very cosy.
They ate all their meals in their own rooms,
attended by a young German called Hans,
who thought them both wonderful,
and answered assiduously:
Herr Baron --bitte sehr,
they saw the pink of dawn away across the park.
The tower of Westminster Cathedral was emerging,
the lamps of Piccadilly,
stringing away beside the trees of the park,
were becoming pale and moth-like,
the morning traffic was clock-clocking down the shadowy road,
which had gleamed all night like metal,
running far ahead into the night,
beneath the lamps,
and which was now vague,
as in a mist,
because of the dawn.
as the flush of dawn became stronger,
they opened the glass doors and went on to the giddy balcony,
feeling triumphant as two angels in bliss,
looking down at the still sleeping world,
which would wake to a dutiful,
sluggish turmoil of unreality.
[But the air was cold.
They went into their bedroom,
and bathed before going to bed,
leaving the partition doors of the bathroom open,
so that the vapour came into the bedroom and faintly dimmed the mirror.
She was always in bed first.
She watched him as he bathed,
the electric light glinting on his wet shoulders.
He stood out of the bath,
his hair all washed flat over his forehead,
and pressed the water out of his eyes.
He was slender,
without a grain of superfluous body.
The brown hair on his body was soft and fine and adorable,
he was all beautifully flushed,
as he stood in the white bath-apartment.
He saw her warm,
lit-up face watching him from the pillow --yet he did not see it --it was always present,
and was to him as his own eyes.
He was never aware of the separate being of her.
She was like his own eyes and his own heart beating to him.
So he went across to her,
to get his sleeping suit.
It was always a perfect adventure to go near to her.
She put her arms round him,
and snuffed his warm,
looking up with bright eyes.
They were both laughing,
Soon they were fast asleep,
asleep till midday,
sleeping one sleep.
Then they awoke to the ever-changing reality of their state.
They alone inhabited the world of reality.
All the rest lived on a lower sphere.
Whatever they wanted to do,
They saw a few people --Dorothy,
whose guest she was supposed to be,
and a couple of friends of Skrebensky,
young Oxford men,
who called her Mrs. Skrebensky with entire simplicity.
They treated her,
with such respect,
that she began to think she was really quite of the whole universe,
of the old world as well as of the new.
She forgot she was outside the pale of the old world.
She thought she had brought it under the spell of her own,
And so she had.
In such ever-changing reality the weeks went by.
All the time,
they were an unknown world to each other.
Every movement made by the one was a reality and an adventure to the other.
They did not want outside excitements.
They went to very few theatres,
they were often in their sitting-room high up over Piccadilly,
with windows open on two sides,
and the door open on to the balcony,
looking over the Green Park,
or down upon the minute travelling of the traffic.
looking at a sunset,
she wanted to go.
She must be gone.
She must be gone at once.
And in two hours' time they were at Charing Cross taking train for Paris.
Paris was his suggestion.
She did not care where it was.
The great joy was in setting out.
And for a few days she was happy in the novelty of Paris.
for some reason,
she must call in Rouen on the way back to London.
He had an instinctive mistrust of her desire for the place.
she wanted to go there.
It was as if she wanted to try its effect upon her.
For the first time,
he had a cold feeling of death;
not afraid of any other man,
but of her.
She seemed to leave him.
She followed after something that was not him.
She did not want him.
The old streets,
the age and the monumental peace of the town took her away from him.
She turned to it as if to something she had forgotten,
This was now the reality;
this great stone cathedral slumbering there in its mass,
which knew no transience nor heard any denial.
It was majestic in its stability,
its splendid absoluteness.
Her soul began to run by itself.
He did not realize,
nor did she.
Yet in Rouen he had the first deadly anguish,
the first sense of the death towards which they were wandering.
And she felt the first heavy yearning,
heavy hopeless warning,
almost like a deep,
uneasy sinking into apathy,
They returned to London.
But still they had two days.
He began to tremble,
he grew feverish with the fear of her departure.
She had in her some fatal prescience,
that made her calm.
What would be,
He remained fairly easy,
still in his state of heightened glamour,
till she had gone,
and he had turned away from St. Pancras,
and sat on the tram-car going up Pimlico to the "Angel",
to Moorgate Street on Sunday evening.
Then the cold horror gradually soaked into him.
He saw the horror of the City Road,
he realized the ghastly cold sordidness of the tram-car in which he sat.
ashen sterility had him surrounded.
Where then was the luminous,
wonderful world he belonged to by rights?
How did he come to be thrown on this refuse-heap where he was?
He was as if mad.
The horror of the brick buildings,
of the tram-car,
of the ashen-grey people in the street made him reeling and blind as if drunk.
He went mad.
He had lived with her in a close,
where everything pulsed with rich being.
Now he found himself struggling amid an ashen-dry,
cold world of rigidity,
dead walls and mechanical traffic,
The life was extinct,
only ash moved and stirred or stood rigid,
there was a horrible,
a rattle like the falling of dry slag,
cold and sterile.
It was as if the sunshine that fell were unnatural light exposing the ash of the town,
as if the lights at night were the sinister gleam of decomposition.
he went to his club and sat with a glass of whisky,
as if turned to clay.
He felt like a corpse that is inhabited with just enough life to make it appear as any other of the spectral,
unliving beings which we call people in our dead language.
Her absence was worse than pain to him.
It destroyed his being.
he went on from lunch to tea.
His face was all the time fixed and stiff and colourless,
his life was a dry,
Yet even he wondered slightly at the awful misery that had overcome him.
How could he be so ashlike and extinct?
He wrote her a letter.
I have been thinking that we must get married before long.
My pay will be more when I get out to India,
we shall be able to get along.
Or if you don't want to go to India,
I could very probably stay here in England.
But I think you would like India.
You could ride,
and you would know just everybody out there.
Perhaps if you stay on to take your degree,
we might marry immediately after that.
I will write to your father as soon as I hear from you -- --
He went on,
disposing of her.
If only he could be with her!
All he wanted now was to marry her,
to be sure of her.
Yet all the time he was perfectly,
without emotion or connection.
He felt as if his life were dead.
His soul was extinct.
The whole being of him had become sterile,
he was a spectre,
divorced from life.
He had no fullness,
he was just a flat shape.
Day by day the madness accumulated in him.
The horror of not-being possessed him.
He went here,
But whatever he did,
he knew that only the cipher of him was there,
nothing was filled in.
He went to the theatre;
what he heard and saw fell upon a cold surface of consciousness,
which was now all that he was,
there was nothing behind it,
he could have no experience of any sort.
Mechanical registering took place in him,
He had no being,
Neither had the people he came into contact with.
They were mere permutations of known quantities.
There was no roundness or fullness in this world he now inhabited,
everything was a dead shape mental arrangement,
without life or being.
Much of the time,
he was with friends and comrades.
Then he forgot everything.
Their activities made up for his own negation,
they engaged his negative horror.
He only became happy when he drank,
and he drank a good deal.
Then he was just the opposite to what he had been.
He became a warm,
in a warm,
diffuse formless fashion.
Everything melted down into a rosy glow,
and he was the glow,
and everything was the glow,
everybody else was the glow,
and it was very nice,
He would sing songs,
it was so nice.
Ursula went back to Beldover shut and firm.
She loved Skrebensky,
of that she was resolved.
She would allow nothing else.
She read his long,
obsessed letter about getting married and going to India,
without any particular response.
She seemed to ignore what he said about marriage.
It did not come home to her.
throughout the greater part of his letter,
to be talking without much meaning.
She replied to him pleasantly and easily.
She rarely wrote long letters.
India sounds lovely.
I can just see myself on an elephant swaying between lanes of obsequious natives.
But I don't know if father would let me go.
We must see.
I keep living over again the lovely times we have had.
But I don't think you liked me quite so much towards the end,
You did not like me when we left Paris.
Why didn't you?
I love you very much.
I love your body.
It is so clear and fine.
I am glad you do not go naked,
or all the women would fall in love with you.
I am very jealous of it,
I love it so much.
He was more or less satisfied with this letter.
But day after day he was walking about,
He could not come again to Nottingham until the end of April.
Then he persuaded her to go with him for a week-end to a friend's house near Oxford.
By this time they were engaged.
He had written to her father,
and the thing was settled.
He brought her an emerald ring,
of which she was very proud.
Her people treated her now with a little distance,
as if she had already left them.
They left her very much alone.
She went with him for the three days in the country house near Oxford.
It was delicious,
and she was very happy.
But the thing she remembered most was when,
getting up in the morning after he had gone back quietly to his own room,
having spent the night with her,
she found herself very rich in being alone,
and enjoying to the full her solitary room,
she drew up her blind and saw the plum trees in the garden below all glittering and snowy and delighted with the sunshine,
in full bloom under a blue sky.
They threw out their blossom,
they flung it out under the blue heavens,
the whitest blossom!
How excited it made her.
She had to hurry through her dressing to go and walk in the garden under the plum trees,
before anyone should come and talk to her.
Out she slipped,
and paced like a queen in fairy pleasaunces.
The blossom was silver-shadowy when she looked up from under the tree at the blue sky.
There was a faint scent,
a faint noise of bees,
a wonderful quickness of happy morning.
She heard the breakfast gong and went indoors.
"Where have you been?"
asked the others.
"I had to go out under the plum trees,"
her face glowing like a flower.
"It is so lovely."
A shadow of anger crossed Skrebensky's soul.
She had not wanted him to be there.
He hardened his will.
At night there was a moon,
and the blossom glistened ghostly,
they went together to look at it.
She saw the moonlight on his face as he waited near her,
and his features were like silver and his eyes in shadow were unfathomable.
She was in love with him.
He was very quiet.
They went indoors and she pretended to be tired.
So she went quickly to bed.
"Don't be long coming to me,"
as she was supposed to be kissing him good night.
And he waited,
for the moment when he could come to her.
She enjoyed him,
she made much of him.
She liked to put her fingers on the soft skin of his sides,
or on the softness of his back,
when he made the muscles hard underneath,
the muscles developed very strong through riding;
and she had a great thrill of excitement and passion,
because of the unimpressible hardness of his body,
that was so soft and smooth under her fingers,
that came to her with such absolute service.
She owned his body and enjoyed it with all the delight and carelessness of a possessor.
But he had become gradually afraid of her body.
He wanted her,
he wanted her endlessly.
But there had come a tension into his desire,
a constraint which prevented his enjoying the delicious approach and the lovable close of the endless embrace.
He was afraid.
His will was always tense,
Her final examination was at midsummer.
She insisted on sitting for it,
although she had neglected her work during the past months.
He also wanted her to go in for the degree.
she would be satisfied.
Secretly he hoped she would fail,
so that she would be more glad of him.
"Would you rather live in India or in England when we are married?"
he asked her.
with a careless lack of consideration which annoyed him.
Once she said,
"I shall be glad to leave England.
Everything is so meagre and paltry,
it is so unspiritual --I hate democracy."
He became angry to hear her talk like this,
he did not know why.
he could not bear it,
when she attacked things.
It was as if she were attacking him.
"What do you mean?"
he asked her,
"Why do you hate democracy?"
"Only the greedy and ugly people come to the top in a democracy,"
"because they're the only people who will push themselves there.
Only degenerate races are democratic."
"What do you want then --an aristocracy?"
He always felt that by rights he belonged to the ruling aristocracy.
Yet to hear her speak for his class pained him with a curious,
He felt he was acquiescing in something illegal,
taking to himself some wrong,
"I do want an aristocracy,"
"And I'd far rather have an aristocracy of birth than of money.
Who are the aristocrats now --who are chosen as the best to rule?
Those who have money and the brains for money.
It doesn't matter what else they have: but they must have money-brains,
--because they are ruling in the name of money."
"The people elect the government,"
"I know they do.
But what are the people?
Each one of them is a money-interest.
I hate it,
that anybody is my equal who has the same amount of money as I have.
I know I am better than all of them.
I hate them.
They are not my equals.
I hate equality on a money basis.
It is the equality of dirt."
Her eyes blazed at him,
he felt as if she wanted to destroy him.
She had gripped him and was trying to break him.
His anger sprang up,
At least he would fight for his existence with her.
blind resistance possessed him.
"I don't care about money,"
"neither do I want to put my finger in the pie.
I am too sensitive about my finger."
"What is your finger to me?"
in a passion.
"You with your dainty fingers,
and your going to India because you will be one of the somebodies there!
It's a mere dodge,
your going to India."
"In what way a dodge?"
white with anger and fear.
"You think the Indians are simpler than us,
and so you'll enjoy being near them and being a lord over them,"
"And you'll feel so righteous,
governing them for their own good.
Who are you,
to feel righteous?
What are you righteous about,
in your governing?
Your governing stinks.
What do you govern for,
but to make things there as dead and mean as they are here!"
"I don't feel righteous in the least,"
"Then what do you feel?
It's all such a nothingness,
what you feel and what you don't feel."
"What do you feel yourself?"
"Aren't you righteous in your own mind?"
because I'm against you,
and all your old,
with the last words,
uttered in hard knowledge,
to strike down the flag that he kept flying.
He felt cut off at the knees,
a figure made worthless.
A horrible sickness gripped him,
as if his legs were really cut away,
and he could not move,
but remained a crippled trunk,
The ghastly sense of helplessness,
as if he were a mere figure that did not exist vitally,
made him mad,
even whilst he was with her,
this death of himself came over him,
when he walked about like a body from which all individual life is gone.
In this state he neither heard nor saw nor felt,
only the mechanism of his life continued.
He hated her,
as far as,
in this state,
he could hate.
His cunning suggested to him all the ways of making her esteem him.
For she did not esteem him.
He left her and did not write to her.
He flirted with other women,
This last made her very fierce.
She was still fiercely jealous of his body.
In passionate anger she upbraided him because,
not being man enough to satisfy one woman,
he hung round others.
["Don't I satisfy you?"
he asked of her,
again going white to the throat.
"You've never satisfied me since the first week in London.
You never satisfy me now.
What does it mean to me,
your having me --"] She lifted her shoulders and turned aside her face in a motion of cold,
He felt he would kill her.
When she had roused him to a pitch of madness,
when she saw his eyes all dark and mad with suffering,
then a great suffering overcame her soul,
And she loved him.
she wanted to love him.
Stronger than life or death was her craving to be able to love him.
And at such moments,
when he was made with her destroying him,
when all his complacency was destroyed,
all his everyday self was broken,
and only the stripped,
primal man remained,
demented with torture,
her passion to love him became love,
she took him again,
they came together in an overwhelming passion,
in which he knew he satisfied her.
But it all contained a developing germ of death.
After each contact,
her anguished desire for him or for that which she never had from him was stronger,
her love was more hopeless.
After each contact his mad dependence on her was deepened,
his hope of standing strong and taking her in his own strength was weakened.
He felt himself a mere attribute of her.
just before her examination.
She was to have a few days of rest.
Dorothy had inherited her patrimony,
and had taken a cottage in Sussex.
She invited them to stay with her.
They went down to Dorothy's neat,
low cottage at the foot of the downs.
Here they could do as they liked.
Ursula was always yearning to go to the top of the downs.
The white track wound up to the rounded summit.
And she must go.
she could see the Channel a few miles away,
the sea raised up and faintly glittering in the sky,
the Isle of Wight a shadow lifted in the far distance,
the river winding bright through the patterned plain to seaward,
Arundel Castle a shadowy bulk,
and then the rolling of the high,
making a high,
smooth land under heaven,
acknowledging only the heavens in their great,
and suffering only a few bushes to trespass on the intercourse between their great,
unabateable body and the changeful body of the sky.
Below she saw the villages and the woods of the weald,
and the train running bravely,
a gallant little thing,
running with all the importance of the world over the water meadows and into the gap of the downs,
waving its white steam,
yet all the while so little.
yet its courage carried it from end to end of the earth,
till there was no place where it did not go.
Yet the downs,
in magnificent indifference,
bearing limbs and body to the sun,
drinking sunshine and sea-wind and sea-wet cloud into its golden skin,
with superb stillness and calm of being,
was not the downs still more wonderful?
energetic courage of the train as it steamed tinily away through the patterned levels to the sea's dimness,
so fast and so energetic,
made her weep.
Where was it going?
It was going nowhere,
it was just going.
so without goal or aim,
yet so hasty!
She sat on an old prehistoric earth-work and cried,
and the tears ran down her face.
The train had tunnelled all the earth,
And she lay face downwards on the downs,
that were so strong,
that cared only for their intercourse with the everlasting skies,
and she wished she could become a strong mound smooth under the sky,
bosom and limbs bared to all winds and clouds and bursts of sunshine.
But she must get up again and look down from her foothold of sunshine,
down and away at the patterned,
with its villages and its smoke and its energy.
So shortsighted the train seemed,
running to the distance,
so terrifying in their littleness the villages,
with such pettiness in their activity.
Skrebensky wandered dazed,
not knowing where he was or what he was doing with her.
All her passion seemed to be to wander up there on the downs,
and when she must descend to earth,
she was heavy.
Up there she was exhilarated and free.
She would not love him in a house any more.
She said she hated houses,
and particularly she hated beds.
There was something distasteful in his coming to her bed.
She would stay the night on the downs,
he with her.
It was midsummer,
the days were glamorously long.
At about half-past ten,
when the bluey-black darkness had at last fallen,
they took rugs and climbed the steep track to the summit of the downs,
he and she.
the stars were big,
the earth below was gone into darkness.
She was free up there with the stars.
Far out they saw tiny yellow lights --but it was very far out,
or on land.
She was free up among the stars.
She took off her clothes,
and made him take off all his,
and they ran over the smooth,
a long way,
more than a mile from where they had left their clothing,
running in the dark,
as naked as the downs themselves.
Her hair was loose and blew about her shoulders,
she ran swiftly,
wearing sandals when she set off on the long run to the dew-pond.
In the round dew-pond the stars were untroubled.
She ventured softly into the water,
grasping at the stars with her hands.
And then suddenly she started back,
He was there,
but only on sufferance.
He was a screen for her fears.
He served her.
She took him,
she clasped him,
clenched him close,
but her eyes were open looking at the stars,
it was as if the stars were lying with her and entering the unfathomable darkness of her womb,
fathoming her at last.
It was not him.
The dawn came.
They stood together on a high place,
an earthwork of the stone-age men,
watching for the light.
It came over the land.
But the land was dark.
She watched a pale rim on the sky,
away against the darkened land.
The darkness became bluer.
A little wind was running in from the sea behind.
It seemed to be running to the pale rift of the dawn.
And she and he darkly,
on an outpost of the darkness,
stood watching for the dawn.
The light grew stronger,
gushing up against the dark sapphire of the transparent night.
The light grew stronger,
then over it hovered a flush of rose.
A flush of rose,
and then yellow,
the whole quivering and poising momentarily over the fountain on the sky's rim.
The rose hovered and quivered,
fused to flame,
to a transient red,
while the yellow urged out in great waves,
thrown from the ever-increasing fountain,
great waves of yellow flinging into the sky,
scattering its spray over the darkness,
which became bluer and bluer,
till soon it would itself be a radiance,
which had been darkness.
The sun was coming.
There was a quivering,
a powerful terrifying swim of molten light.
Then the molten source itself surged forth,
The sun was in the sky,
too powerful to look at.
And the ground beneath lay so still,
Only now and again a cock crew.
from the distant yellow hills to the pine trees at the foot of the downs,
everything was newly washed into being,
in a flood of new,
It was so unutterably still and perfect with promise,
that Ursula's soul rocked and wept.
Suddenly he glanced at her.
The tears were running over her cheeks,
her mouth was working strangely.
"What is the matter?"
After a moment's struggle with her voice.
"It is so beautiful,"
looking at the glowing,
It was so beautiful,
and so unsullied.
He too realized what England would be in a few hours' time --a blind,
all for nothing,
fuming with dirty smoke and running trains and groping in the bowels of the earth,
all for nothing.
A ghastliness came over him.
He looked at Ursula.
Her face was wet with tears,
like a transfiguration in the refulgent light.
Nor was his the hand to wipe away the burning,
He stood apart,
overcome by a cruel ineffectuality.
Gradually a great,
helpless sorrow was rising in him.
But as yet he was fighting it away,
he was struggling for his own life.
He became very quiet and unaware of the things about him,
as it were,
her judgment on him.
They returned to Nottingham,
the time of her examination came.
She must go to London.
But she would not stay with him in an hotel.
She would go to a quiet little pension near the British Museum.
Those quiet residential squares of London made a great impression on her mind.
They were very complete.
Her mind seemed imprisoned in their quietness.
Who was going to liberate her?
In the evening,
her practical examinations being over,
he went with her to dinner at one of the hotels down the river,
It was golden and beautiful,
with yellow water and white and scarlet-striped boat-awnings,
and blue shadows under the trees.
"When shall we be married?"
he asked her,
as if it were a mere question of comfort.
She watched the changing pleasure-traffic of the river.
He looked at her golden,
The knot gathered in his throat.
"I don't know,"
A hot grief gripped his throat.
"Why don't you know --don't you want to be married?"
he asked her.
Her head turned slowly,
like a boy's face,
expressionless because she was trying to think,
looked towards his face.
She did not see him,
because she was pre-occupied.
She did not quite know what she was going to say.
"I don't think I want to be married,"
and her naive,
puzzled eyes rested a moment on his,
then travelled away,
"Do you mean never,
or not just yet?"
The knot in his throat grew harder,
his face was drawn as if he were being strangled.
"I mean never,"
out of some far self which spoke for once beyond her.
strangled face watched her blankly for a few moments,
then a strange sound took place in his throat.
came to herself,
His head made a queer motion,
the chin jerked back against the throat,
hiccupping sound came again,
his face twisted like insanity,
and he was crying,
crying blind and twisted as if something were broken which kept him in control.
It tore every one of her nerves to see him.
He made groping movements to get out of his chair.
But he was crying uncontrollably,
with his face twisted like a mask,
contorted and the tears running down the amazing grooves in his cheeks.
his face always this horrible working mask,
he groped for his hat,
for his way down from the terrace.
It was eight o'clock,
but still brightly light.
The other people were staring.
In great agitation,
part of which was exasperation,
she stayed behind,
paid the waiter with a half-sovereign,
took her yellow silk coat,
then followed Skrebensky.
She saw him walking with brittle,
blind steps along the path by the river.
She could tell by the strange stiffness and brittleness of his figure that he was still crying.
Hurrying after him,
she took his arm.
Why are you like this?
What are you doing this for?
It's not necessary."
and his manhood was cruelly,
Yet it was no good.
He could not gain control of his face.
were weeping violently,
as if automatically.
his knowledge had nothing to do with it.
He simply could not stop.
She walked holding his arm,
silent with exasperation and perplexity and pain.
He took the uncertain steps of a blind man,
because his mind was blind with weeping.
"Shall we go home?
Shall we have a taxi?"
He could pay no attention.
she signalled indefinitely to a taxi-cab that was going slowly by.
The driver saluted and drew up.
She opened the door and pushed Skrebensky in,
then took her own place.
Her face was uplifted,
the mouth closed down,
she looked hard and cold and ashamed.
She winced as the driver's dark red face was thrust round upon her,
animal face with black eyebrows and a thick,
his white teeth showing.
Again for a moment she was flustered.
He touched his cap and stolidly set the car in motion.
He seemed to have a league with her to ignore Skrebensky.
The latter sat as if trapped within the taxi-cab,
his face still working,
whilst occasionally he made quick slight movements of the head,
to shake away his tears.
He never moved his hands.
She could not bear to look at him.
She sat with face uplifted and averted to the window.
when she had regained some control over herself,
she turned again to him.
He was much quieter.
His face was wet,
and twitched occasionally,
his hands still lay motionless.
But his eyes were quite still,
like a washed sky after rain,
full of a wan light,
and quite steady,
A pain flamed in her womb,
"I didn't think I should hurt you,"
laying her hand very lightly,
on his arm.
"The words came without my knowing.
They didn't mean anything,
He remained quite still,
but washed all wan and without feeling.
looking at him,
as if he were some curious,
"You won't cry again,
Some shame and bitterness against her burned him in the question.
She noticed how his moustache was soddened wet with tears.
Taking her handkerchief,
she wiped his face.
The driver's heavy,
stolid back remained always turned to them,
as if conscious but indifferent.
Skrebensky sat motionless whilst Ursula wiped his face,
and yet clumsily,
not as well as he would have wiped it himself.
Her handkerchief was too small.
It was soon wet through.
She groped in his pocket for his own.
with its more ample capacity,
she carefully dried his face.
He remained motionless all the while.
Then she drew his cheek to hers and kissed him.
His face was cold.
Her heart was hurt.
She saw the tears welling quickly to his eyes again.
As if he were a child,
she again wiped away his tears.
By now she herself was on the point of weeping.
Her underlip was caught between her teeth.
So she sat still,
for fear of her own tears,
sitting close by him,
holding his hand warm and close and loving.
Meanwhile the car ran on,
and a soft,
midsummer dusk began to gather.
For a long while they sat motionless.
Only now and again her hand closed more closely,
over his hand,
then gradually relaxed.
The dusk began to fall.
One or two lights appeared.
The driver drew up to light his lamps.
Skrebensky moved for the first time,
leaning forward to watch the driver.
His face had always the same still,
almost childlike look,
They saw the driver's strange,
dark face peering into the lamps under drawn brows.
It was the face almost of an animal yet of a quick,
wary animal that had them within its knowledge,
almost within its power.
She clung closer to Krebensky.
she said to him,
when the car was again running in full motion.
He made no movement or sound.
He let her hold his hand,
he let her reach forward,
in the gathering darkness,
and kiss his still cheek.
The crying had gone by --he would not cry any more.
He was whole and himself again.
trying to make him notice her.
But as yet he could not.
He watched the road.
They were running by Kensington Gardens.
For the first time his lips opened.
"Shall we get out and go into the park,"
not sure what was coming.
After a moment he took the tube from its peg.
She saw the stout,
self-contained driver lean his head.
"Stop at Hyde Park Corner."
The dark head nodded,
the car ran on just the same.
Presently they pulled up.
Skrebensky paid the man.
Ursula stood back.
She saw the driver salute as he received his tip,
before he set the car in motion,
turn and look at her,
with his quick,
his eyes very concentrated and the whites of his eyes flickering.
Then he drove away into the crowd.
He had let her go.
She had been afraid.
Skrebensky turned with her into the park.
A band was still playing and the place was thronged with people.
They listened to the ebbing music,
then went aside to a dark seat,
where they sat closely,
hand in hand.
Then at length,
as out of the silence,
she said to him,
"What hurt you so?"
She really did not know,
at this moment.
"When you said you wanted never to marry me,"
with a childish simplicity.
"But why did that hurt you so?"
"You needn't mind everything I say so particularly."
"I don't know --I didn't want to do it,"
She pressed his hand warmly.
They sat close together,
watching the soldiers go by with their sweethearts,
the lights trailing in myriads down the great thoroughfares that beat on the edge of the park.
"I didn't know you cared so much,"
"I was knocked over myself.
--But I care --all the world."
His voice was so quiet and colourless,
it made her heart go pale with fear.
drawing near to him.
But she spoke out of fear,
not out of love.
"I care all the world --I care for nothing else --neither in life nor in death,"
in the same steady,
colourless voice of essential truth.
"Than for what?"
she murmured duskily.
"Than for you --to be with me."
And again she was afraid.
Was she to be conquered by this?
She cowered close to him,
very close to him.
They sat perfectly still,
listening to the great,
beating sound of the town,
the murmur of lovers going by,
the footsteps of soldiers.
She shivered against him.
"You are cold?"
"We will go and have some supper."
He was now always quiet and decided and remote,
He seemed to have some strange,
cold power over her.
They went to a restaurant,
and drank chianti.
But his pale,
wan look did not go away.
"Don't leave me to-night,"
he said at length,
looking at her,
He was so strange and impersonal,
she was afraid.
"But the people of my place,"
"I will explain to them --they know we are engaged."
She sat pale and mute.
"Shall we go?"
he said at length.
"To an hotel."
Her heart was hardened.
she rose to acquiesce.
But she was now cold and unreal.
Yet she could not refuse him.
It seemed like fate,
a fate she did not want.
They went to an Italian hotel somewhere,
and had a sombre bedroom with a very large bed,
The ceiling was painted with a bunch of flowers in a big medallion over the bed.
She thought it was pretty.
He came to her,
and cleaved to her very close,
like steel cleaving and clinching on to her.
Her passion was roused,
it was fierce but cold.
But it was fierce,
their passion this night.
He slept with her fast in his arms.
All night long he held her fast against him.
She was passive,
But her sleep was not very deep nor very real.
She woke in the morning to a sound of water dashed on a courtyard,
to sunlight streaming through a lattice.
She thought she was in a foreign country.
And Skrebensky was there an incubus upon her.
She lay still,
whilst his arm was round her,
his head against her shoulders,
his body against hers,
just behind her.
He was still asleep.
She watched the sunshine coming in bars through the persiennes,
and her immediate surroundings again melted away.
She was in some other land,
some other world,
where the old restraints had dissolved and vanished,
where one moved freely,
not afraid of one's fellow men,
nor on the defensive,
at one's ease.
in a sort of silver light,
she wandered at large and at ease.
The bonds of the world were broken.
This world of England had vanished away.
She heard a voice in the yard below calling:
"O Giovann' --O'-O'-O'-Giovann' -- --!"
And she knew she was in a new country,
in a new life.
It was very delicious to lie thus still,
with one's soul wandering freely and simply in the silver light of some other,
more finely natural world.
But always there was a foreboding waiting to command her.
She became more aware of Skrebensky.
She knew he was waking up.
She must modify her soul,
depart from her further world,
She knew he was awake.
He lay still,
with a concrete stillness,
not as when he slept.
Then his arm tightened almost convulsively upon her,
and he said,
"Did you sleep well?"
"So did I."
There was a pause.
"And do you love me?"
She turned and looked at him searchingly.
He seemed outside her.
But she said it out of complacency and a desire not to be harried.
There was a curious breach of silence between them,
which frightened him.
They lay rather late,
then he rang for breakfast.
She wanted to be able to go straight downstairs and away from the place,
when she got up.
She was happy in this room,
but the thought of the publicity of the hall downstairs rather troubled her.
A young Italian,
dark and slightly pock-marked,
buttoned up in a sort of grey tunic,
appeared with the tray.
His face had an almost African imperturbability,
"One might be in Italy,"
Skrebensky said to him,
A vacant look,
almost like fear,
came on the fellow's face.
He did not understand.
"This is like Italy,"
The face of the Italian flashed with a non-comprehending smile,
he finished setting out the tray,
and was gone.
He did not understand: he would understand nothing: he disappeared from the door like a half-domesticated wild animal.
It made Ursula shudder slightly,
intent animality of the man.
Skrebensky was beautiful to her this morning,
his face softened and transfused with suffering and with love,
his movements very still and gentle.
He was beautiful to her,
but she was detached from him by a chill distance.
Always she seemed to be bearing up against the distance that separated them.
But he was unaware.
This morning he was transfused and beautiful.
She admired his movements,
the way he spread honey on his roll,
or poured out the coffee.
When breakfast was over,
she lay still again on the pillows,
whilst he went through his toilet.
She watched him,
as he sponged himself,
and quickly dried himself with the towel.
His body was beautiful,
his movements intent and quick,
she admired him and she appreciated him without reserve.
He seemed completed now.
He aroused no fruitful fecundity in her.
He seemed added up,
She knew him all round,
not on any side did he lead into the unknown.
almost passionate appreciation she felt for him,
but none of the dreadful wonder,
none of the rich fear,
the connection with the unknown,
or the reverence of love.
unaware this morning.
His body was quiet and fulfilled,
his veins complete with satisfaction,
he was happy,
Again she went home.
But this time he went with her.
He wanted to stay by her.
He wanted her to marry him.
It was already July.
In early September he must sail for India.
He could not bear to think of going alone.
She must come with him.
he kept beside her.
Her examination was finished,
her college career was over.
There remained for her now to marry or to work again.
She applied for no post.
It was concluded she would marry.
India tempted her --the strange,
But with the thought of Calcutta,
or of Simla,
and of the European population,
India was no more attractive to her than Nottingham.
She had failed in her examination: she had gone down: she had not taken her degree.
It was a blow to her.
It hardened her soul.
"It doesn't matter,"
"What are the odds,
whether you are a Bachelor of Arts or not,
according to the London University?
All you know,
and if you are Mrs. Skrebensky,
the B.A. is meaningless."
Instead of consoling her,
this made her harder,
She was now up against her own fate.
It was for her to choose between being Mrs. Skrebensky,
even Baroness Skrebensky,
wife of a lieutenant in the Royal Engineers,
as he called them,
living with the European population in India --or being Ursula Brangwen,
She was qualified by her Intermediate Arts examination.
She would probably even now get a post quite easily as assistant in one of the higher grade schools,
or even in Willey Green School.
Which was she to do?
She hated most of all entering the bondage of teaching once more.
Very heartily she detested it.
Yet at the thought of marriage and living with Skrebensky amid the European population in India,
her soul was locked and would not budge.
She had very little feeling about it: only there was a deadlock.
everybody waited for the decision.
When Anton talked to her,
and seemed insidiously to suggest himself as a husband to her,
she knew how utterly locked out he was.
On the other hand,
when she saw Dorothy,
and discussed the matter,
she felt she would marry him promptly,
as a sharp disavowal of adherence with Dorothy's views.
The situation was almost ridiculous.
"But do you love him?"
"It isn't a question of loving him,"
"I love him well enough --certainly more than I love anybody else in the world.
And I shall never love anybody else the same again.
We have had the flower of each other.
But I don't care about love.
I don't value it.
I don't care whether I love or whether I don't,
whether I have love or whether I haven't.
What is it to me?"
And she shrugged her shoulders in fierce,
rather angry and afraid.
"Then what do you care about?"
"I don't know,"
"But something impersonal.
Love --love --love --what does it mean --what does it amount to?
So much personal gratification.
It doesn't lead anywhere."
"It isn't supposed to lead anywhere,
"I thought it was the one thing which is an end in itself."
"Then what does it matter to me?"
"As an end in itself,
I could love a hundred men,
one after the other.
Why should I end with a Skrebensky?
Why should I not go on,
and love all the types I fancy,
one after another,
if love is an end in itself?
There are plenty of men who aren't Anton,
whom I could love --whom I would like to love."
"Then you don't love him,"
"I tell you I do;
--quite as much,
and perhaps more than I should love any of the others.
Only there are plenty of things that aren't in Anton that I would love in the other men."
"It doesn't matter.
But a sort of strong understanding,
in some men,
and then a dignity,
something unquestioned that there is in working men,
and then a jolly,
reckless passionateness that you see --a man who could really let go -- --"
Dorothy could feel that Ursula was already hankering after something else,
something that this man did not give her.
"The question is,
what do you want,"
"Is it just other men?"
Ursula was silenced.
This was her own dread.
Was she just promiscuous?
"Because if it is,"
"you'd better marry Anton.
The other can only end badly."
So out of fear of herself Ursula was to marry Skrebensky.
He was very busy now,
preparing to go to India.
He must visit relatives and contract business.
He was almost sure of Ursula now.
She seemed to have given in.
And he seemed to become again an important,
It was the first week in August,
and he was one of a large party in a bungalow on the Lincolnshire coast.
It was a tennis,
given by his great-aunt,
a lady of social pretensions.
Ursula was invited to spend the week with the party.
She went rather reluctantly.
Her marriage was more or less fixed for the twenty-eighth of the month.
They were to sail for India on September the fifth.
One thing she knew,
in her subconsciousness,
and that was,
she would never sail for India.
She and Anton,
being important guests on account of the coming marriage,
had rooms in the large bungalow.
It was a big place,
with a great central hall,
two smaller writing-rooms,
and then two corridors from which opened eight or nine bedrooms.
Skrebensky was put on one corridor,
Ursula on the other.
They felt very lost,
in the crowd.
they were allowed to be out alone together as much as they liked.
Yet she felt very strange,
in this crowd of strange people,
as if she had no privacy.
She was not used to these homogeneous crowds.
She was afraid.
She felt different from the rest of them,
with their hard,
that seemed to cost them so little.
She felt she was not pronounced enough.
It was a kind of hold-your-own unconventional atmosphere.
She did not like it.
in assemblies of people,
she liked formality.
She felt she did not produce the right effect.
She was not effective: she was not beautiful: she was nothing.
Even before Skrebensky she felt unimportant,
He could take his part very well with the rest.
He and she went out into the night.
There was a moon behind clouds,
shedding a diffused light,
gleaming now and again in bits of smoky mother-of-pearl.
So they walked together on the wet,
ribbed sands near the sea,
hearing the run of the long,
that made a ghostly whiteness and a whisper.
He was sure of himself.
As she walked,
the soft silk of her dress --she wore a blue shantung,
full-skirted --blew away from the sea and flapped and clung to her legs.
She wished it would not.
Everything seemed to give her away,
and she could not rouse herself to deny,
she was so confused.
He would lead her away to a pocket in the sand-hills,
secret amid the grey thorn-bushes and the grey,
He held her close against him,
felt all her firm,
unutterably desirable mould of body through the fine fibre of the silk that fell about her limbs.
slipping fierily on the hidden,
yet revealed roundness and firmness of her body,
seemed to run in him like fire,
make his brain burn like brimstone.
She liked it,
the electric fire of the silk under his hands upon her limbs,
the fire flew over her,
as he drew nearer and nearer to discovery.
She vibrated like a jet of electric,
firm fluid in response.
Yet she did not feel beautiful.
All the time,
she felt she was not beautiful to him,
[She let him take her,
and he seemed mad,
mad with excited passion.
as she lay afterwards on the cold,
looking up at the blotted,
faintly luminous sky,
felt that she was as cold now as she had been before.
seemed almost savagely satisfied.
He seemed revenged.
A little wind wafted the sea grass and passed over her face.
Where was the supreme fulfilment she would never enjoy?
Why was she so cold,
As they went home,
and she saw the many,
hateful lights of the bungalow,
of several bungalows in a group,
he said softly:
"Don't lock your door."
We belong to each other.
Don't let us deny it."
She did not answer.
He took her silence for consent.
He shared his room with another man.
"it won't alarm the house if I go across to happier regions."
"So long as you don't make a great row going,
and don't try the wrong door,"
said the other man,
turning in to sleep.
Skrebensky went out in his wide-striped sleeping suit.
He crossed the big dining hall,
whose low firelight smelled of cigars and whisky and coffee,
entered the other corridor and found Ursula's room.
She was lying awake,
wide-eyed and suffering.
She was glad he had come,
if only for consolation.
It was consolation to be held in his arms,
to feel his body against hers.
Yet how foreign his arms and body were!
not so horribly foreign and hostile as the rest of the house felt to her.
She did not know how she suffered in this house.
She was healthy and exorbitantly full of interest.
So she played tennis and learned golf,
she rowed out and swam in the deep sea,
and enjoyed it very much indeed,
full of zest.
Yet all the time,
among those others,
she felt shocked and wincing,
as if her violently-sensitive nakedness were exposed to the hard,
material impact of the rest of the people.
The days went by unmarked,
in a full,
almost strenuous enjoyment of one's own physique.
Skrebensky was one among the others,
till evening came,
and he took her for himself.
She was allowed a great deal of freedom and was treated with a good deal of respect,
as a girl on the eve of marriage,
about to depart for another continent.
The trouble began at evening.
Then a yearning for something unknown came over her,
a passion for something she knew not what.
She would walk the foreshore alone after dusk,
as if she had gone to a rendezvous.
bitter passion of the sea,
its indifference to the earth,
and its salt burning,
seemed to provoke her to a pitch of madness,
tantalizing her with vast suggestions of fulfilment.
would come Skrebensky,
whom she knew,
whom she was fond of,
who was attractive,
but whose soul could not contain her in its waves of strength,
nor his breast compel her in burning,
One evening they went out after dinner,
across the low golf links to the dunes and the sea.
The sky had small,
all was still and faintly dark.
They walked together in silence,
through the heavy loose sand of the gap between the dunes.
They went in silence under the even,
in the darker shadow of the sandhills.
cresting the heavy,
Ursula lifted her head,
and shrank back,
There was a great whiteness confronting her,
the moon was incandescent as a round furnace door,
out of which came the high blast of moonlight,
over the seaward half of the world,
terrifying glare of white light.
They shrank back for a moment into shadow,
uttering a cry.
He felt his chest laid bare,
where the secret was heavily hidden.
He felt himself fusing down to nothingness,
like a bead that rapidly disappears in an incandescent flame.
And she went forward,
plunging into it.
He followed behind.
She too seemed to melt into the glare,
towards the moon.
The sands were as ground silver,
the sea moved in solid brightness,
coming towards them,
and she went to meet the advance of the flashing,
[She gave her breast to the moon,
her belly to the flashing,
heaving water.] He stood behind,
a shadow ever dissolving.
She stood on the edge of the water,
at the edge of the solid,
flashing body of the sea,
and the wave rushed over her feet.
"I want to go,"
in a strong,
"I want to go."
He saw the moonlight on her face,
so she was like metal,
he heard her ringing,
like the voice of a harpy to him.
ranging on the edge of the water like a possessed creature,
and he followed her.
He saw the froth of the wave followed by the hard,
bright water swirl over her feet and her ankles,
she swung out her arms,
he expected every moment to see her walk into the sea,
dressed as she was,
and be carried swimming out.
But she turned,
she walked to him.
"I want to go,"
she cried again,
in the high,
like the scream of gulls.
"I don't know."
And she seized hold of his arm,
held him fast,
as if captive,
and walked him a little way by the edge of the dazzling,
Then there in the great flare of light,
she clinched hold of him,
as if suddenly she had the strength of destruction,
she fastened her arms round him and tightened him in her grip,
whilst her mouth sought his in a hard,
till his body was powerless in her grip,
his heart melted in fear from the fierce,
The water washed again over their feet,
but she took no notice.
She seemed unaware,
she seemed to be pressing in her beaked mouth till she had the heart of him.
she drew away and looked at him --looked at him.
He knew what she wanted.
He took her by the hand and led her across the foreshore,
back to the sandhills.
She went silently.
He felt as if the ordeal of proof was upon him,
for life or death.
He led her to a dark hollow.
going out to the slope full under the moonshine.
She lay motionless,
with wide-open eyes looking at the moon.
He came direct to her,
She held him pinned down at the chest,
the struggle for consummation was terrible.
It lasted till it was agony to his soul,
till he succumbed,
till he gave way as if dead,
lay with his face buried,
partly in her hair,
partly in the sand,
as if he would be motionless now for ever,
hidden away in the dark,
he only wanted to be buried in the goodly darkness,
and no more.
He seemed to swoon.
It was a long time before he came to himself.
He was aware of an unusual motion of her breast.
He looked up.
Her face lay like an image in the moonlight,
the eyes wide open,
But out of the eyes,
there rolled a tear,
that glittered in the moonlight as it ran down her cheek.
He felt as if as the knife were being pushed into his already dead body.
With head strained back,
for some minutes,
watched the unaltering,
rigid face like metal in the moonlight,
in which slowly the water gathered,
shook with glittering moonlight,
brimmed over and ran trickling,
a tear with its burden of moonlight,
into the darkness,
to fall in the sand.
He drew gradually away as if afraid,
drew away --she did not move.
He glanced at her --she lay the same.
Could he break away?
saw the open foreshore,
clear in front of him,
and he plunged away,
on and on,
ever farther from the horrible figure that lay stretched in the moonlight on the sands with the tears gathering and travelling on the motionless,
if ever he must see her again,
his bones must be broken,
his body crushed,
obliterated for ever.
And as yet,
he had the love of his own living body.
He wandered on a long,
till his brain drew dark and he was unconscious with weariness.
Then he curled in the deepest darkness he could find,
under the sea-grass,
and lay there without consciousness.
She broke from her tense cramp of agony gradually,
though each movement was a goad of heavy pain.
she lifted her dead body from the sands,
and rose at last.
There was now no moon for her,
All had passed away.
She trailed her dead body to the house,
to her room,
where she lay down inert.
Morning brought her a new access of superficial life.
But all within her was cold,
Skrebensky appeared at breakfast.
He was white and obliterated.
They did not look at each other nor speak to each other.
Apart from the ordinary,
trivial talk of civil people,
they were separate,
they did not speak of what was between them during the remaining two days of their stay.
They were like two dead people who dare not recognize,
dare not see each other.
Then she packed her bag and put on her things.
There were several guests leaving together,
for the same train.
He would have no opportunity to speak to her.
He tapped at her bedroom door at the last minute.
She stood with her umbrella in her hand.
He closed the door.
He did not know what to say.
"Have you done with me?"
he asked her at length,
lifting his head.
"It isn't me,"
"You have done with me --we have done with each other."
He looked at her,
at the closed face,
which he thought so cruel.
And he knew he could never touch her again.
His will was broken,
he was seared,
but he clung to the life of his body.
what have I done?"
in a rather querulous voice.
"I don't know,"
in the same dull,
"It is finished.
It had been a failure."
He was silent.
The words still burned his bowels.
"Is it my fault?"
looking up at length,
challenging the last stroke.
"You couldn't -- --" she began.
But she broke down.
He turned away,
afraid to hear more.
She began to gather her bag,
She must be gone now.
He was waiting for her to be gone.
At length the carriage came and she drove away with the rest.
When she was out of sight,
a great relief came over him,
a pleasant banality.
In an instant,
everything was obliterated.
He was childishly amiable and companionable all the day long.
He was astonished that life could be so nice.
It was better than it had been before.
What a simple thing it was to be rid of her!
How friendly and simple everything felt to him.
What false thing had she been forcing on him?
But at night he dared not be alone.
His room-mate had gone,
and the hours of darkness were an agony to him.
He watched the window in suffering and terror.
When would this horrible darkness be lifted off him?
Setting all his nerves,
he endured it.
He went to sleep with the dawn.
He never thought of her.
Only his terror of the hours of night grew on him,
obsessed him like a mania.
He slept fitfully,
with constant wakings of anguish.
The fear wore away the core of him.
His plan was to sit up very late: drink in company until one or half-past one in the morning;
then he would get three hours of sleep,
It was light by five o'clock.
But he was shocked almost to madness if he opened his eyes on the darkness.
In the daytime he was all right,
always occupied with the thing of the moment,
adhering to the trivial present,
which seemed to him ample and satisfying.
No matter how little and futile his occupations were,
he gave himself to them entirely,
and felt normal and fulfilled.
He was always active,
Only he dreaded the darkness and silence of his own bedroom,
when the darkness should challenge him upon his own soul.
That he could not bear,
as he could not bear to think about Ursula.
He had no soul,
He never thought of Ursula,
he gave her no sign.
She was the darkness,
He turned to immediate things.
He wanted to marry quickly,
to screen himself from the darkness,
the challenge of his own soul.
He would marry his Colonel's daughter.
pursued by his obsession for activity,
he wrote to this girl,
telling her his engagement was broken --it had been a temporary infatuation which he less than any one else could understand now it was over --and could he see his very dear friend soon?
He would not be happy till he had an answer.
He received a rather surprised reply from the girl,
but she would be glad to see him.
She was living with her aunt.
He went down to her at once,
and proposed to her the first evening.
He was accepted.
The marriage took place quietly within fourteen days' time.
Ursula was not notified of the event.
In another week,
Skrebensky sailed with his new wife to India.
Ursula went home to Beldover faint,
She could scarcely speak or notice.
It was as if her energy were frozen.
Her people asked her what was the matter.
She told them she had broken off the engagement with Skrebensky.
They looked blank and angry.
But she could not feel any more.
The weeks crawled by in apathy.
He would have sailed for India now.
She was scarcely interested.
She was inert,
without strength or interest.
Suddenly a shock ran through her,
so violent that she thought she was struck down.
Was she with child?
She had been so stricken under the pain of herself and of him,
this had never occurred to her.
Now like a flame it took hold of her limbs and body.
Was she with child?
In the first flaming hours of wonder,
she did not know what she felt.
She was as if tied to the stake.
The flames were licking her and devouring her.
But the flames were also good.
They seemed to wear her away to rest.
What she felt in her heart and her womb she did not know.
It was a kind of swoon.
Then gradually the heaviness of her heart pressed and pressed into consciousness.
What was she doing?
Was she bearing a child?
Bearing a child?
Her flesh thrilled,
but her soul was sick.
like the seal set on her own nullity.
Yet she was glad in her flesh that she was with child.
She began to think,
that she would write to Skrebensky,
that she would go out to him,
and marry him,
and live simply as a good wife to him.
What did the self,
the form of life matter?
Only the living from day to day mattered,
the beloved existence in the body,
with no beyond,
no further trouble,
no further complication.
She had been wrong,
she had been arrogant and wicked,
wanting that other thing,
that fantastic freedom,
conceited fulfilment which she had imagined she could not have with Skrebensky.
Who was she to be wanting some fantastic fulfilment in her life?
Was it not enough that she had her man,
her place of shelter under the sun?
Was it not enough for her,
as it had been enough for her mother?
She would marry and love her husband and fill her place simply.
That was the ideal.
Suddenly she saw her mother in a just and true light.
Her mother was simple and radically true.
She had taken the life that was given.
She had not,
in her arrogant conceit,
insisted on creating life to fit herself.
Her mother was right,
and she herself had been false,
A great mood of humility came over her,
and in this humility a bondaged sort of peace.
She gave her limbs to the bondage,
she loved the bondage,
she called it peace.
In this state she sat down to write to Skrebensky.
Since you left me I have suffered a great deal,
and so have come to myself.
I cannot tell you the remorse I feel for my wicked,
It was given to me to love you,
and to know your love for me.
But instead of thankfully,
on my knees,
taking what God had given me,
I must have the moon in my keeping,
I must insist on having the moon for my own.
Because I could not have it,
everything else must go.
I do not know if you can ever forgive me.
I could die with shame to think of my behaviour with you during our last times,
and I don't know if I could ever bear to look you in the face again.
Truly the best thing would be for me to die,
and cover my fantasies for ever.
But I find I am with child,
so that cannot be.
It is your child,
and for that reason I must revere it and submit my body entirely to its welfare,
entertaining no thought of death,
which once more is largely conceit.
because you once loved me,
and because this child is your child,
I ask you to have me back.
If you will cable me one word,
I will come to you as soon as I can.
I swear to you to be a dutiful wife,
and to serve you in all things.
For now I only hate myself and my own conceited foolishness.
I love you --I love the thought of you --you were natural and decent all through,
whilst I was so false.
Once I am with you again,
I shall ask no more than to rest in your shelter all my life -- --
This letter she wrote,
sentence by sentence,
as if from her deepest,
She felt that now,
she was at the depths of herself.
This was her true self,
With this document she would appear before God at the Judgment Day.
For what had a woman but to submit?
What was her flesh but for childbearing,
her strength for her children and her husband,
the giver of life?
At last she was a woman.
She posted her letter to his club,
to be forwarded to him in Calcutta.
He would receive it soon after his arrival in India --within three weeks of his arrival there.
In a month's time she would receive word from him.
Then she would go.
She was quite sure of him.
She thought only of preparing her garments and of living quietly,
till the time when she should join him again and her history would be concluded for ever.
The peace held like an unnatural calm for a long time.
She was aware,
of a gathering restiveness,
a tumult impending within her.
She tried to run away from it.
She wished she could hear from Skrebensky,
in answer to her letter,
so that her course should be resolved,
she should be engaged in fulfilling her fate.
It was this inactivity which made her liable to the revulsion she dreaded.
It was curious how little she cared about his not having written to her before.
It was enough that she had sent her letter.
She would get the required answer,
that was all.
One afternoon in early October,
feeling the seething rising to madness within her,
she slipped out in the rain,
to walk abroad,
lest the house should suffocate her.
Everywhere was drenched wet and deserted,
the grimed houses glowed dull red,
the butt houses burned scarlet in a gleam of light,
under the glistening,
blackish purple slates.
Ursula went on towards Willey Green.
She lifted her face and walked swiftly,
seeing the passage of light across the shallow valley,
seeing the colliery and its clouds of steam for a moment visionary in dim brilliance,
away in the chaos of rain.
Then the veils closed again.
She was glad of the rain's privacy and intimacy.
Making on towards the wood,
she saw the pale gleam of Willey Water through the cloud below,
she walked the open space where hawthorn trees streamed like hair on the wind and round bushes were presences slowing through the atmosphere.
It was very splendid,
free and chaotic.
Yet she hurried to the wood for shelter.
the vast booming overhead vibrated down and encircled her,
tree-trunks spanned the circle of tremendous sound,
myriads of tree-trunks,
enormous and streaked black with water,
thrust like stanchions upright between the roaring overhead and the sweeping of the circle underfoot.
She glided between the tree-trunks,
afraid of them.
They might turn and shut her in as she went through their martialled silence.
So she flitted along,
keeping an illusion that she was unnoticed.
She felt like a bird that has flown in through the window of a hall where vast warriors sit at the board.
Between their grave,
booming ranks she was hastening,
assuming she was unnoticed,
till she emerged,
with beating heart,
through the far window and out into the open,
upon the vivid green,
She turned under the shelter of the common,
seeing the great veils of rain swinging with slow,
floating waves across the landscape.
She was very wet and a long way from home,
far enveloped in the rain and the waving landscape.
She must beat her way back through all this fluctuation,
back to stability and security.
A solitary thing,
she took the track straight across the wilderness,
The path was a narrow groove in the turf between high,
it was scarcely more than a rabbit run.
So she moved swiftly along,
watching her footing,
going like a bird on the wind,
with no thought,
contained in motion.
But her heart had a small,
living seed of fear,
as she went through the wash of hollow space.
Suddenly she knew there was something else.
Some horses were looming in the rain,
not near yet.
But they were going to be near.
She continued her path,
They were horses in the lee of a clump of trees beyond,
She pursued her way with bent head.
She did not want to lift her face to them.
She did not want to know they were there.
She went on in the wild track.
She knew the heaviness on her heart.
It was the weight of the horses.
But she would circumvent them.
She would bear the weight steadily,
and so escape.
She would go straight on,
and be gone by.
Suddenly the weight deepened and her heart grew tense to bear it.
Her breathing was laboured.
But this weight also she could bear.
She knew without looking that the horses were moving nearer.
What were they?
She felt the thud of their heavy hoofs on the ground.
What was it that was drawing near her,
what weight oppressing her heart?
She did not know,
she did not look.
Yet now her way was cut off.
They were blocking her back.
She knew they had gathered on a log bridge over the sedgy dike,
powerfully heavy knot.
Yet her feet went on and on.
They would burst before her.
They would burst before her.
Her feet went on and on.
and more tense became her nerves and her veins,
they ran hot,
they ran white hot,
they must fuse and she must die.
But the horses had burst before her.
In a sort of lightning of knowledge their movement travelled through her,
the quiver and strain and thrust of their powerful flanks,
as they burst before her and drew on,
She knew they had not gone,
she knew they awaited her still.
But she went on over the log bridge that their hoofs had churned and drummed,
she went on,
knowing things about them.
She was aware of their breasts gripped,
clenched narrow in a hold that never relaxed,
she was aware of their red nostrils flaming with long endurance,
and of their haunches,
pressing to burst the grip upon their breasts,
pressing for ever till they went mad,
running against the walls of time,
and never bursting free.
Their great haunches were smoothed and darkened with rain.
But the darkness and wetness of rain could not put out the hard,
massive fire that was locked within these flanks,
She went on,
She was aware of the great flash of hoofs,
iridescent flash surrounding a hollow of darkness.
large seemed the bluish,
incandescent flash of the hoof-iron,
large as a halo of lightning round the knotted darkness of the flanks.
Like circles of lightning came the flash of hoofs from out of the powerful flanks.
They were awaiting her again.
They had gathered under an oak tree,
knotting their awful,
triumphing flanks together,
They were waiting for her approach.
As if from a far distance she was drawing near,
towards the line of twiggy oak trees where they made their intense darkness,
gathered on a single bank.
She must draw near.
But they broke away,
they cantered round,
making a wide circle to avoid noticing her,
and cantered back into the open hillside behind her.
They were behind her.
The way was open before her,
to the gate in the high hedge in the near distance,
so she could pass into the smaller,
and so out to the high-road and the ordered world of man.
Her way was clear.
She lulled her heart.
Yet her heart was couched with fear,
couched with fear all along.
Suddenly she hesitated as if seized by lightning.
She seemed to fall,
yet found herself faltering forward with small steps.
The thunder of horses galloping down the path behind her shook her,
the weight came down upon her,
to the moment of extinction.
She could not look round,
so the horses thundered upon her.
they swerved and crashed by on her left hand.
She saw the fierce flanks crinkled and as yet inadequate,
the great hoofs flashing bright as yet only brandished about her,
and one by one the horses crashed by,
working themselves up.
They had gone by,
brandishing themselves thunderously about her,
They slackened their burst transport,
they slowed down,
and cantered together into a knot once more,
in the corner by the gate and the trees ahead of her.
they moved uneasily,
they settled their uneasy flanks into one group,
They were up against her.
Her heart was gone,
she had no more heart.
She knew she dare not draw near.
knitted flank of the horse-group had conquered.
It stirred uneasily,
knowing its triumph.
It stirred uneasily,
with the uneasiness of awaited triumph.
Her heart was gone,
her limbs were dissolved,
she was dissolved like water.
All the hardness and looming power was in the massive body of the horse-group.
Her feet faltered,
she came to a standstill.
It was the crisis.
The horses stirred their flanks uneasily.
She looked away,
On her left,
two hundred yards down the slope,
the thick hedge ran parallel.
At one point there was an oak tree.
She might climb into the boughs of that oak tree,
and so round and drop on the other side of the hedge.
with limbs like water,
dreading every moment to fall,
she began to work her way as if making a wide detour round the horse-mass.
The horses stirred their flanks in a knot against her.
She trembled forward as if in a trance.
in a flame of agony,
seized the rugged knots of the oak tree and began to climb.
Her body was weak but her hands were as hard as steel.
She knew she was strong.
She struggled in a great effort till she hung on the bough.
She knew the horses were aware.
She gained her foot-hold on the bough.
The horses were loosening their knot,
trying to realize.
She was working her way round to the other side of the tree.
As they started to canter towards her,
she fell in a heap on the other side of the hedge.
For some moments she could not move.
Then she saw through the rabbit-cleared bottom of the hedge the great,
working hoofs of the horses as they cantered near.
She could not bear it.
She rose and walked swiftly,
diagonally across the field.
The horses galloped along the other side of the hedge to the corner,
where they were held up.
She could feel them there in their huddled group all the while she hastened across the bare field.
They were almost pathetic,
Her will alone carried her,
she climbed the fence under a leaning thorn tree that overhung the grass by the high-road.
The use went from her,
she sat on the fence leaning back against the trunk of the thorn tree,
As she sat there,
time and the flux of change passed away from her,
she lay as if unconscious upon the bed of the stream,
like a stone,
whilst everything rolled by in transience,
leaving her there,
a stone at rest on the bed of the stream,
inalterable and passive,
sunk to the bottom of all change.
She lay still a long time,
with her back against the thorn tree trunk,
in her final isolation.
Some colliers passed,
tramping heavily up the wet road,
their voices sounding out,
their shoulders up to their ears,
their figures blotched and spectral in the rain.
Some did not see her.
She opened her eyes languidly as they passed by.
Then one man going alone saw her.
The whites of his eyes showed in his black face as he looked in wonderment at her.
He hesitated in his walk,
as if to speak to her,
out of frightened concern for her.
How she dreaded his speaking to her,
dreaded his questioning her.
She slipped from her seat and went vaguely along the path --vaguely.
It was a long way home.
She had an idea that she must walk for the rest of her life,
Step after step,
step after step,
and always along the wet,
rainy road between the hedges.
Step after step,
step after step,
the monotony produced a deep,
cold sense of nausea in her.
How profound was her cold nausea,
That too plumbed the bottom.
She seemed destined to find the bottom of all things to-day: the bottom of all things.
at any rate she was walking along the bottom-most bed --she was quite safe: quite safe,
if she had to go on and on for ever,
seeing this was the very bottom,
and there was nothing deeper.
There was nothing deeper,
so one could not but feel certain,
She arrived home at last.
The climb up the hill to Beldover had been very trying.
Why must one climb the hill?
Why must one climb?
Why not stay below?
Why force one's way up the slope?
Why force one's way up and up,
when one is at the bottom?
it was very trying,
she must get to the top and go home to bed.
She must go to bed.
She got in and went upstairs in the dusk without its being noticed she was in such a sodden condition.
She was too tired to go downstairs again.
She got into bed and lay shuddering with cold,
yet too apathetic to get up or call for relief.
Then gradually she became more ill.
She was very ill for a fortnight,
shaken and racked.
amid the ache of delirium,
she had a dull firmness of being,
a sense of permanency.
She was in some way like the stone at the bottom of the river,
inviolable and unalterable,
no matter what storm raged in her body.
Her soul lay still and permanent,
full of pain,
but itself for ever.
Under all her illness,
persisted a deep,
and she cared no more.
Throughout her illness,
distorted into vague forms,
persisted the question of herself and Skrebensky,
like a gnawing ache that was still superficial,
and did not touch her isolated,
impregnable core of reality.
But the corrosion of him burned in her till it burned itself out.
Must she belong to him,
must she adhere to him?
Something compelled her,
and yet it was not real.
Always the ache,
the ache of unreality,
of her belonging to Skrebensky.
What bound her to him when she was not bound to him?
Why did the falsity persist?
Why did the falsity gnaw,
gnaw at her,
why could she not wake up to clarity,
If she could but wake up,
if she could but wake up,
the falsity of the dream,
of her connection with Skrebensky,
would be gone.
But the sleep,
the delirium pinned her down.
Even when she was calm and sober she was in its spell.
Yet she was never in its spell.
What extraneous thing bound her to him?
There was some bond put upon her.
Why could she not break it through?
What was it?
What was it?
In her delirium she beat and beat at the question.
And at last her weariness gave her the answer --it was the child.
The child bound her to him.
The child was like a bond round her brain,
tightened on her brain.
It bound her to Skrebensky.
why did it bind her to Skrebensky?
Could she not have a child of herself?
Was not the child her own affair?
all her own affair?
What had it to do with him?
Why must she be bound,
aching and cramped with the bondage,
to Skrebensky and Skrebensky's world?
Anton's world: it became in her feverish brain a compression which enclosed her.
If she could not get out of the compression she would go mad.
The compression was Anton and Anton's world,
not the Anton she possessed,
but the Anton she did not possess,
that which was owned by some other influence,
by the world.
She fought and fought and fought all through her illness to be free of him and his world,
to put it aside,
to put it aside,
into its place.
Yet ever anew it gained ascendency over her,
it laid new hold on her.
the unutterable weariness of her flesh,
which she could not cast off,
nor yet extricate.
If she could but extricate herself,
if she could but disengage herself from feeling,
from her body,
from all the vast encumbrances of the world that was in contact with her,
from her father,
and her mother,
and her lover,
and all her acquaintance.
in an ache of utter weariness she repeated:
"I have no father nor mother nor lover,
I have no allocated place in the world of things,
I do not belong to Beldover nor to Nottingham nor to England nor to this world,
they none of them exist,
I am trammelled and entangled in them,
but they are all unreal.
I must break out of it,
like a nut from its shell which is an unreality."
to her feverish brain,
came the vivid reality of acorns in February lying on the floor of a wood with their shells burst and discarded and the kernel issued naked to put itself forth.
She was the naked,
clear kernel thrusting forth the clear,
and the world was a bygone winter,
her mother and father and Anton,
and college and all her friends,
all cast off like a year that has gone by,
whilst the kernel was free and naked and striving to take new root,
to create a new knowledge of Eternity in the flux of Time.
And the kernel was the only reality;
the rest was cast off into oblivion.
This grew and grew upon her.
When she opened her eyes in the afternoon and saw the window of her room and the faint,
smoky landscape beyond,
this was all husk and shell lying by,
all husk and shell,
she could see nothing else,
she was enclosed still,
but loosely enclosed.
There was a space between her and the shell.
It was burst,
there was a rift in it.
Soon she would have her root fixed in a new Day,
her nakedness would take itself the bed of a new sky and a new air,
fibrous husk would be gone.
Gradually she began really to sleep.
She slept in the confidence of her new reality.
She slept breathing with her soul the new air of a new world.
The peace was very deep and enrichening.
She had her root in new ground,
she was gradually absorbed into growth.
When she woke at last it seemed as if a new day had come on the earth.
how long had she fought through the dust and obscurity,
for this new dawn?
How frail and fine and clear she felt,
like the most fragile flower that opens in the end of winter.
But the pole of night was turned and the dawn was coming in.
Very far off was her old experience --Skrebensky,
her parting with him --very far off.
Some things were real;
those first glamorous weeks.
these had seemed like hallucination.
Now they seemed like common reality.
The rest was unreal.
She knew that Skrebensky had never become finally real.
In the weeks of passionate ecstasy he had been with her in her desire,
she had created him for the time being.
But in the end he had failed and broken down.
what a void separated him and her.
She liked him now,
as she liked a memory,
some bygone self.
He was something of the past,
He was that which is known.
She felt a poignant affection for him,
as for that which is past.
when she looked with her face forward,
he was not.
when she looked ahead,
into the undiscovered land before her,
what was there she could recognize but a fresh glow of light and inscrutable trees going up from the earth like smoke.
It was the unknown,
the undiscovered upon whose shore she had landed,
after crossing the void,
the darkness which washed the New World and the Old.
There would be no child: she was glad.
If there had been a child,
it would have made little difference,
She would have kept the child and herself,
she would not have gone to Skrebensky.
Anton belonged to the past.
There came the cablegram from Skrebensky:
"I am married."
An old pain and anger and contempt stirred in her.
Did he belong so utterly to the cast-off past?
She repudiated him.
He was as he was.
It was good that he was as he was.
Who was she to have a man according to her own desire?
It was not for her to create,
but to recognize a man created by God.
The man should come from the Infinite and she should hail him.
She was glad she could not create her man.
She was glad she had nothing to do with his creation.
She was glad that this lay within the scope of that vaster power in which she rested at last.
The man would come out of Eternity to which she herself belonged.
As she grew better,
she sat to watch a new creation.
As she sat at her window,
she saw the people go by in the street below,
walking each in the husk of an old fruition,
but visible through the husk,
the swelling and the heaving contour of the new germination.
In the still,
silenced forms of the colliers she saw a sort of suspense,
a waiting in pain for the new liberation;
she saw the same in the false hard confidence of the women.
The confidence of the women was brittle.
It would break quickly to reveal the strength and patient effort of the new germination.
In everything she saw she grasped and groped to find the creation of the living God,
instead of the old,
hard barren form of bygone living.
Sometimes great terror possessed her.
Sometimes she lost touch,
she lost her feeling,
she could only know the old horror of the husk which bound in her and all mankind.
They were all in prison,
they were all going mad.
She saw the stiffened bodies of the colliers,
which seemed already enclosed in a coffin,
she saw their unchanging eyes,
the eyes of those who are buried alive: she saw the hard,
cutting edges of the new houses,
which seemed to spread over the hillside in their insentient triumph,
the triumph of horrible,
amorphous angles and straight lines,
the expression of corruption triumphant and unopposed,
corruption so pure that it is hard and brittle: she saw the dun atmosphere over the blackened hills opposite,
the dark blotches of houses,
slate roofed and amorphous,
the old church-tower standing up in hideous obsoleteness above raw new houses on the crest of the hill,
hard edged new houses advancing from Beldover to meet the corrupt new houses from Lethley,
the houses of Lethley advancing to mix with the houses of Hainor,
terrible corruption spreading over the face of the land,
and she was sick with a nausea so deep that she perished as she sat.
in the blowing clouds,
she saw a band of faint iridescence colouring in faint colours a portion of the hill.
she looked for the hovering colour and saw a rainbow forming itself.
In one place it gleamed fiercely,
her heart anguished with hope,
she sought the shadow of iris where the bow should be.
Steadily the colour gathered,
it took presence upon itself,
there was a faint,
The arc bended and strengthened itself till it arched indomitable,
making great architecture of light and colour and the space of heaven,
its pedestals luminous in the corruption of new houses on the low hill,
its arch the top of heaven.
And the rainbow stood on the earth.
She knew that the sordid people who crept hard-scaled and separate on the face of the world's corruption were living still,
that the rainbow was arched in their blood and would quiver to life in their spirit,
that they would cast off their horny covering of disintegration,
naked bodies would issue to a new germination,
to a new growth,
rising to the light and the wind and the clean rain of heaven.
She saw in the rainbow the earth's new architecture,
brittle corruption of houses and factories swept away,
the world built up in a living fabric of Truth,
fitting to the over-arching heaven.