The Rainbow

THE RAINBOW













BY D. H. LAWRENCE













THE



MODERN LIBRARY



NEW YORK

















COPYRIGHT, 1915, BY D. H. LAWRENCE















Random House is the publisher of











THE MODERN LIBRARY



BENNETT A. CERF ▪ DONALD S. KLOPFER ▪ ROBERT K.
HAAS



Manufactured in the United States of America

Printed by Parkway Printing Company

Bound by H. Wolff













TO ELSE













CONTENTS









I   How Tom Brangwen Married a Polish Lady
II They Live at the Marsh
III Childhood of Anna Lensky
IV Girlhood of Anna Brangwen
V Wedding at the Marsh
VI Anna Victrix
VII The Cathedral
VIIIThe Child
IX The Marsh and the Flood
X The Widening Circle
XI First Love
XII Shame
XIIIThe Man's World
XIV The Widening Circle
XV The Bitterness of Ecstasy
XVI The Rainbow













THE RAINBOW





CHAPTER I

HOW TOM BRANGWEN MARRIED A POLISH LADY

I

The Brangwens had lived for generations on the Marsh Farm, in
the meadows where the Erewash twisted sluggishly through alder
trees, separating Derbyshire from Nottinghamshire. Two miles
away, a church-tower stood on a hill, the houses of the little
country town climbing assiduously up to it. Whenever one of the
Brangwens in the fields lifted his head from his work, he saw
the church-tower at Ilkeston in the empty sky. So that as he
turned again to the horizontal land, he was aware of something
standing above him and beyond him in the distance.

There was a look in the eyes of the Brangwens as if they were
expecting something unknown, about which they were eager. They
had that air of readiness for what would come to them, a kind of
surety, an expectancy, the look of an inheritor.

They were fresh, blond, slow-speaking people, revealing
themselves plainly, but slowly, so that one could watch the
change in their eyes from laughter to anger, blue, lit-up
laughter, to a hard blue-staring anger; through all the
irresolute stages of the sky when the weather is changing.

Living on rich land, on their own land, near to a growing
town, they had forgotten what it was to be in straitened
circumstances. They had never become rich, because there were
always children, and the patrimony was divided every time. But
always, at the Marsh, there was ample.

So the Brangwens came and went without fear of necessity,
working hard because of the life that was in them, not for want
of the money. Neither were they thriftless. They were aware of
the last halfpenny, and instinct made them not waste the peeling
of their apple, for it would help to feed the cattle. But heaven
and earth was teeming around them, and how should this cease?
They felt the rush of the sap in spring, they knew the wave
which cannot halt, but every year throws forward the seed to
begetting, and, falling back, leaves the young-born on the
earth. They knew the intercourse between heaven and earth,
sunshine drawn into the breast and bowels, the rain sucked up in
the daytime, nakedness that comes under the wind in autumn,
showing the birds' nests no longer worth hiding. Their life and
interrelations were such; feeling the pulse and body of the
soil, that opened to their furrow for the grain, and became
smooth and supple after their ploughing, and clung to their feet
with a weight that pulled like desire, lying hard and
unresponsive when the crops were to be shorn away. The young
corn waved and was silken, and the lustre slid along the limbs
of the men who saw it. They took the udder of the cows, the cows
yielded milk and pulse against the hands of the men, the pulse
of the blood of the teats of the cows beat into the pulse of the
hands of the men. They mounted their horses, and held life
between the grip of their knees, they harnessed their horses at
the wagon, and, with hand on the bridle-rings, drew the heaving
of the horses after their will.

In autumn the partridges whirred up, birds in flocks blew
like spray across the fallow, rooks appeared on the grey, watery
heavens, and flew cawing into the winter. Then the men sat by
the fire in the house where the women moved about with surety,
and the limbs and the body of the men were impregnated with the
day, cattle and earth and vegetation and the sky, the men sat by
the fire and their brains were inert, as their blood flowed
heavy with the accumulation from the living day.

The women were different. On them too was the drowse of
blood-intimacy, calves sucking and hens running together in
droves, and young geese palpitating in the hand while the food
was pushed down their throttle. But the women looked out from
the heated, blind intercourse of farm-life, to the spoken world
beyond. They were aware of the lips and the mind of the world
speaking and giving utterance, they heard the sound in the
distance, and they strained to listen.

It was enough for the men, that the earth heaved and opened
its furrow to them, that the wind blew to dry the wet wheat, and
set the young ears of corn wheeling freshly round about; it was
enough that they helped the cow in labour, or ferreted the rats
from under the barn, or broke the back of a rabbit with a sharp
knock of the hand. So much warmth and generating and pain and
death did they know in their blood, earth and sky and beast and
green plants, so much exchange and interchange they had with
these, that they lived full and surcharged, their senses full
fed, their faces always turned to the heat of the blood, staring
into the sun, dazed with looking towards the source of
generation, unable to turn round.

But the woman wanted another form of life than this,
something that was not blood-intimacy. Her house faced out from
the farm-buildings and fields, looked out to the road and the
village with church and Hall and the world beyond. She stood to
see the far-off world of cities and governments and the active
scope of man, the magic land to her, where secrets were made
known and desires fulfilled. She faced outwards to where men
moved dominant and creative, having turned their back on the
pulsing heat of creation, and with this behind them, were set
out to discover what was beyond, to enlarge their own scope and
range and freedom; whereas the Brangwen men faced inwards to the
teeming life of creation, which poured unresolved into their
veins.

Looking out, as she must, from the front of her house towards
the activity of man in the world at large, whilst her husband
looked out to the back at sky and harvest and beast and land,
she strained her eyes to see what man had done in fighting
outwards to knowledge, she strained to hear how he uttered
himself in his conquest, her deepest desire hung on the battle
that she heard, far off, being waged on the edge of the unknown.
She also wanted to know, and to be of the fighting host.

At home, even so near as Cossethay, was the vicar, who spoke
the other, magic language, and had the other, finer bearing,
both of which she could perceive, but could never attain to. The
vicar moved in worlds beyond where her own menfolk existed. Did
she not know her own menfolk: fresh, slow, full-built men,
masterful enough, but easy, native to the earth, lacking
outwardness and range of motion. Whereas the vicar, dark and dry
and small beside her husband, had yet a quickness and a range of
being that made Brangwen, in his large geniality, seem dull and
local. She knew her husband. But in the vicar's nature was that
which passed beyond her knowledge. As Brangwen had power over
the cattle so the vicar had power over her husband. What was it
in the vicar, that raised him above the common men as man is
raised above the beast? She craved to know. She craved to
achieve this higher being, if not in herself, then in her
children. That which makes a man strong even if he be little and
frail in body, just as any man is little and frail beside a
bull, and yet stronger than the bull, what was it? It was not
money nor power nor position. What power had the vicar over Tom
Brangwen—none. Yet strip them and set them on a desert
island, and the vicar was the master. His soul was master of the
other man's. And why—why? She decided it was a question of
knowledge.

The curate was poor enough, and not very efficacious as a
man, either, yet he took rank with those others, the superior.
She watched his children being born, she saw them running as
tiny things beside their mother. And already they were separate
from her own children, distinct. Why were her own children
marked below the others? Why should the curate's children
inevitably take precedence over her children, why should
dominance be given them from the start? It was not money, nor
even class. It was education and experience, she decided.

It was this, this education, this higher form of being, that
the mother wished to give to her children, so that they too
could live the supreme life on earth. For her children, at least
the children of her heart, had the complete nature that should
take place in equality with the living, vital people in the
land, not be left behind obscure among the labourers. Why must
they remain obscured and stifled all their lives, why should
they suffer from lack of freedom to move? How should they learn
the entry into the finer, more vivid circle of life?

Her imagination was fired by the squire's lady at Shelly
Hall, who came to church at Cossethay with her little children,
girls in tidy capes of beaver fur, and smart little hats,
herself like a winter rose, so fair and delicate. So fair, so
fine in mould, so luminous, what was it that Mrs. Hardy felt
which she, Mrs. Brangwen, did not feel? How was Mrs. Hardy's
nature different from that of the common women of Cossethay, in
what was it beyond them? All the women of Cossethay talked
eagerly about Mrs. Hardy, of her husband, her children, her
guests, her dress, of her servants and her housekeeping. The
lady of the Hall was the living dream of their lives, her life
was the epic that inspired their lives. In her they lived
imaginatively, and in gossiping of her husband who drank, of her
scandalous brother, of Lord William Bentley her friend, member
of Parliament for the division, they had their own Odyssey
enacting itself, Penelope and Ulysses before them, and Circe and
the swine and the endless web.

So the women of the village were fortunate. They saw
themselves in the lady of the manor, each of them lived her own
fulfilment of the life of Mrs. Hardy. And the Brangwen wife of
the Marsh aspired beyond herself, towards the further life of
the finer woman, towards the extended being she revealed, as a
traveller in his self-contained manner reveals far-off countries
present in himself. But why should a knowledge of far-off
countries make a man's life a different thing, finer, bigger?
And why is a man more than the beast and the cattle that serve
him? It is the same thing.

The male part of the poem was filled in by such men as the
vicar and Lord William, lean, eager men with strange movements,
men who had command of the further fields, whose lives ranged
over a great extent. Ah, it was something very desirable to
know, this touch of the wonderful men who had the power of
thought and comprehension. The women of the village might be
much fonder of Tom Brangwen, and more at their ease with him,
yet if their lives had been robbed of the vicar, and of Lord
William, the leading shoot would have been cut away from them,
they would have been heavy and uninspired and inclined to hate.
So long as the wonder of the beyond was before them, they could
get along, whatever their lot. And Mrs. Hardy, and the vicar,
and Lord William, these moved in the wonder of the beyond, and
were visible to the eyes of Cossethay in their motion.

II

About 1840, a canal was constructed across the meadows of the
Marsh Farm, connecting the newly-opened collieries of the
Erewash Valley. A high embankment travelled along the fields to
carry the canal, which passed close to the homestead, and,
reaching the road, went over in a heavy bridge.

So the Marsh was shut off from Ilkeston, and enclosed in the
small valley bed, which ended in a bushy hill and the village
spire of Cossethay.

The Brangwens received a fair sum of money from this trespass
across their land. Then, a short time afterwards, a colliery was
sunk on the other side of the canal, and in a while the Midland
Railway came down the valley at the foot of the Ilkeston hill,
and the invasion was complete. The town grew rapidly, the
Brangwens were kept busy producing supplies, they became richer,
they were almost tradesmen.

Still the Marsh remained remote and original, on the old,
quiet side of the canal embankment, in the sunny valley where
slow water wound along in company of stiff alders, and the road
went under ash-trees past the Brangwens' garden gate.

But, looking from the garden gate down the road to the right,
there, through the dark archway of the canal's square aqueduct,
was a colliery spinning away in the near distance, and further,
red, crude houses plastered on the valley in masses, and beyond
all, the dim smoking hill of the town.

The homestead was just on the safe side of civilization,
outside the gate. The house stood bare from the road, approached
by a straight garden path, along which at spring the daffodils
were thick in green and yellow. At the sides of the house were
bushes of lilac and guelder-rose and privet, entirely hiding the
farm buildings behind.

At the back a confusion of sheds spread into the home-close
from out of two or three indistinct yards. The duck-pond lay
beyond the furthest wall, littering its white feathers on the
padded earthen banks, blowing its stray soiled feathers into the
grass and the gorse bushes below the canal embankment, which
rose like a high rampart near at hand, so that occasionally a
man's figure passed in silhouette, or a man and a towing horse
traversed the sky.

At first the Brangwens were astonished by all this commotion
around them. The building of a canal across their land made them
strangers in their own place, this raw bank of earth shutting
them off disconcerted them. As they worked in the fields, from
beyond the now familiar embankment came the rhythmic run of the
winding engines, startling at first, but afterwards a narcotic
to the brain. Then the shrill whistle of the trains re-echoed
through the heart, with fearsome pleasure, announcing the
far-off come near and imminent.

As they drove home from town, the farmers of the land met the
blackened colliers trooping from the pit-mouth. As they gathered
the harvest, the west wind brought a faint, sulphurous smell of
pit-refuse burning. As they pulled the turnips in November, the
sharp clink-clink-clink-clink-clink of empty trucks shunting on
the line, vibrated in their hearts with the fact of other
activity going on beyond them.

The Alfred Brangwen of this period had married a woman from
Heanor, a daughter of the "Black Horse". She was a slim, pretty,
dark woman, quaint in her speech, whimsical, so that the sharp
things she said did not hurt. She was oddly a thing to herself,
rather querulous in her manner, but intrinsically separate and
indifferent, so that her long lamentable complaints, when she
raised her voice against her husband in particular and against
everybody else after him, only made those who heard her wonder
and feel affectionately towards her, even while they were
irritated and impatient with her. She railed long and loud about
her husband, but always with a balanced, easy-flying voice and a
quaint manner of speech that warmed his belly with pride and
male triumph while he scowled with mortification at the things
she said.

Consequently Brangwen himself had a humorous puckering at the
eyes, a sort of fat laugh, very quiet and full, and he was
spoilt like a lord of creation. He calmly did as he liked,
laughed at their railing, excused himself in a teasing tone that
she loved, followed his natural inclinations, and sometimes,
pricked too near the quick, frightened and broke her by a deep,
tense fury which seemed to fix on him and hold him for days, and
which she would give anything to placate in him. They were two
very separate beings, vitally connected, knowing nothing of each
other, yet living in their separate ways from one root.

There were four sons and two daughters. The eldest boy ran
away early to sea, and did not come back. After this the mother
was more the node and centre of attraction in the home. The
second boy, Alfred, whom the mother admired most, was the most
reserved. He was sent to school in Ilkeston and made some
progress. But in spite of his dogged, yearning effort, he could
not get beyond the rudiments of anything, save of drawing. At
this, in which he had some power, he worked, as if it were his
hope. After much grumbling and savage rebellion against
everything, after much trying and shifting about, when his
father was incensed against him and his mother almost
despairing, he became a draughtsman in a lace-factory in
Nottingham.

He remained heavy and somewhat uncouth, speaking with broad
Derbyshire accent, adhering with all his tenacity to his work
and to his town position, making good designs, and becoming
fairly well-off. But at drawing, his hand swung naturally in
big, bold lines, rather lax, so that it was cruel for him to
pedgill away at the lace designing, working from the tiny
squares of his paper, counting and plotting and niggling. He did
it stubbornly, with anguish, crushing the bowels within him,
adhering to his chosen lot whatever it should cost. And he came
back into life set and rigid, a rare-spoken, almost surly
man.

He married the daughter of a chemist, who affected some
social superiority, and he became something of a snob, in his
dogged fashion, with a passion for outward refinement in the
household, mad when anything clumsy or gross occurred. Later,
when his three children were growing up, and he seemed a staid,
almost middle-aged man, he turned after strange women, and
became a silent, inscrutable follower of forbidden pleasure,
neglecting his indignant bourgeois wife without a qualm.

Frank, the third son, refused from the first to have anything
to do with learning. From the first he hung round the
slaughter-house which stood away in the third yard at the back
of the farm. The Brangwens had always killed their own meat, and
supplied the neighbourhood. Out of this grew a regular butcher's
business in connection with the farm.

As a child Frank had been drawn by the trickle of dark blood
that ran across the pavement from the slaughter-house to the
crew-yard, by the sight of the man carrying across to the
meat-shed a huge side of beef, with the kidneys showing,
embedded in their heavy laps of fat.

He was a handsome lad with soft brown hair and regular
features something like a later Roman youth. He was more easily
excitable, more readily carried away than the rest, weaker in
character. At eighteen he married a little factory girl, a pale,
plump, quiet thing with sly eyes and a wheedling voice, who
insinuated herself into him and bore him a child every year and
made a fool of him. When he had taken over the butchery
business, already a growing callousness to it, and a sort of
contempt made him neglectful of it. He drank, and was often to
be found in his public house blathering away as if he knew
everything, when in reality he was a noisy fool.

Of the daughters, Alice, the elder, married a collier and
lived for a time stormily in Ilkeston, before moving away to
Yorkshire with her numerous young family. Effie, the younger,
remained at home.

The last child, Tom, was considerably younger than his
brothers, so had belonged rather to the company of his sisters.
He was his mother's favourite. She roused herself to
determination, and sent him forcibly away to a grammar-school in
Derby when he was twelve years old. He did not want to go, and
his father would have given way, but Mrs. Brangwen had set her
heart on it. Her slender, pretty, tightly-covered body, with
full skirts, was now the centre of resolution in the house, and
when she had once set upon anything, which was not often, the
family failed before her.

So Tom went to school, an unwilling failure from the first.
He believed his mother was right in decreeing school for him,
but he knew she was only right because she would not acknowledge
his constitution. He knew, with a child's deep, instinctive
foreknowledge of what is going to happen to him, that he would
cut a sorry figure at school. But he took the infliction as
inevitable, as if he were guilty of his own nature, as if his
being were wrong, and his mother's conception right. If he could
have been what he liked, he would have been that which his
mother fondly but deludedly hoped he was. He would have been
clever, and capable of becoming a gentleman. It was her
aspiration for him, therefore he knew it as the true aspiration
for any boy. But you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear,
as he told his mother very early, with regard to himself; much
to her mortification and chagrin.

When he got to school, he made a violent struggle against his
physical inability to study. He sat gripped, making himself pale
and ghastly in his effort to concentrate on the book, to take in
what he had to learn. But it was no good. If he beat down his
first repulsion, and got like a suicide to the stuff, he went
very little further. He could not learn deliberately. His mind
simply did not work.

In feeling he was developed, sensitive to the atmosphere
around him, brutal perhaps, but at the same time delicate, very
delicate. So he had a low opinion of himself. He knew his own
limitation. He knew that his brain was a slow hopeless
good-for-nothing. So he was humble.

But at the same time his feelings were more discriminating
than those of most of the boys, and he was confused. He was more
sensuously developed, more refined in instinct than they. For
their mechanical stupidity he hated them, and suffered cruel
contempt for them. But when it came to mental things, then he
was at a disadvantage. He was at their mercy. He was a fool. He
had not the power to controvert even the most stupid argument,
so that he was forced to admit things he did not in the least
believe. And having admitted them, he did not know whether he
believed them or not; he rather thought he did.

But he loved anyone who could convey enlightenment to him
through feeling. He sat betrayed with emotion when the teacher
of literature read, in a moving fashion, Tennyson's "Ulysses",
or Shelley's "Ode to the West Wind". His lips parted, his eyes
filled with a strained, almost suffering light. And the teacher
read on, fired by his power over the boy. Tom Brangwen was moved
by this experience beyond all calculation, he almost dreaded it,
it was so deep. But when, almost secretly and shamefully, he
came to take the book himself, and began the words "Oh wild west
wind, thou breath of autumn's being," the very fact of the print
caused a prickly sensation of repulsion to go over his skin, the
blood came to his face, his heart filled with a bursting passion
of rage and incompetence. He threw the book down and walked over
it and went out to the cricket field. And he hated books as if
they were his enemies. He hated them worse than ever he hated
any person.

He could not voluntarily control his attention. His mind had
no fixed habits to go by, he had nothing to get hold of, nowhere
to start from. For him there was nothing palpable, nothing known
in himself, that he could apply to learning. He did not know how
to begin. Therefore he was helpless when it came to deliberate
understanding or deliberate learning.

He had an instinct for mathematics, but if this failed him,
he was helpless as an idiot. So that he felt that the ground was
never sure under his feet, he was nowhere. His final downfall
was his complete inability to attend to a question put without
suggestion. If he had to write a formal composition on the Army,
he did at last learn to repeat the few facts he knew: "You can
join the army at eighteen. You have to be over five foot eight."
But he had all the time a living conviction that this was a
dodge and that his common-places were beneath contempt. Then he
reddened furiously, felt his bowels sink with shame, scratched
out what he had written, made an agonized effort to think of
something in the real composition style, failed, became sullen
with rage and humiliation, put the pen down and would have been
torn to pieces rather than attempt to write another word.

He soon got used to the Grammar School, and the Grammar
School got used to him, setting him down as a hopeless duffer at
learning, but respecting him for a generous, honest nature. Only
one narrow, domineering fellow, the Latin master, bullied him
and made the blue eyes mad with shame and rage. There was a
horrid scene, when the boy laid open the master's head with a
slate, and then things went on as before. The teacher got little
sympathy. But Brangwen winced and could not bear to think of the
deed, not even long after, when he was a grown man.

He was glad to leave school. It had not been unpleasant, he
had enjoyed the companionship of the other youths, or had
thought he enjoyed it, the time had passed very quickly, in
endless activity. But he knew all the time that he was in an
ignominious position, in this place of learning. He was aware of
failure all the while, of incapacity. But he was too healthy and
sanguine to be wretched, he was too much alive. Yet his soul was
wretched almost to hopelessness.

He had loved one warm, clever boy who was frail in body, a
consumptive type. The two had had an almost classic friendship,
David and Jonathan, wherein Brangwen was the Jonathan, the
server. But he had never felt equal with his friend, because the
other's mind outpaced his, and left him ashamed, far in the
rear. So the two boys went at once apart on leaving school. But
Brangwen always remembered his friend that had been, kept him as
a sort of light, a fine experience to remember.

Tom Brangwen was glad to get back to the farm, where he was
in his own again. "I have got a turnip on my shoulders, let me
stick to th' fallow," he said to his exasperated mother. He had
too low an opinion of himself. But he went about at his work on
the farm gladly enough, glad of the active labour and the smell
of the land again, having youth and vigour and humour, and a
comic wit, having the will and the power to forget his own
shortcomings, finding himself violent with occasional rages, but
usually on good terms with everybody and everything.

When he was seventeen, his father fell from a stack and broke
his neck. Then the mother and son and daughter lived on at the
farm, interrupted by occasional loud-mouthed lamenting,
jealous-spirited visitations from the butcher Frank, who had a
grievance against the world, which he felt was always giving him
less than his dues. Frank was particularly against the young
Tom, whom he called a mardy baby, and Tom returned the hatred
violently, his face growing red and his blue eyes staring. Effie
sided with Tom against Frank. But when Alfred came, from
Nottingham, heavy jowled and lowering, speaking very little, but
treating those at home with some contempt, Effie and the mother
sided with him and put Tom into the shade. It irritated the
youth that his elder brother should be made something of a hero
by the women, just because he didn't live at home and was a
lace-designer and almost a gentleman. But Alfred was something
of a Prometheus Bound, so the women loved him. Tom came later to
understand his brother better.

As youngest son, Tom felt some importance when the care of
the farm devolved on to him. He was only eighteen, but he was
quite capable of doing everything his father had done. And of
course, his mother remained as centre to the house.

The young man grew up very fresh and alert, with zest for
every moment of life. He worked and rode and drove to market, he
went out with companions and got tipsy occasionally and played
skittles and went to the little travelling theatres. Once, when
he was drunk at a public house, he went upstairs with a
prostitute who seduced him. He was then nineteen.

The thing was something of a shock to him. In the close
intimacy of the farm kitchen, the woman occupied the supreme
position. The men deferred to her in the house, on all household
points, on all points of morality and behaviour. The woman was
the symbol for that further life which comprised religion and
love and morality. The men placed in her hands their own
conscience, they said to her "Be my conscience-keeper, be the
angel at the doorway guarding my outgoing and my incoming." And
the woman fulfilled her trust, the men rested implicitly in her,
receiving her praise or her blame with pleasure or with anger,
rebelling and storming, but never for a moment really escaping
in their own souls from her prerogative. They depended on her
for their stability. Without her, they would have felt like
straws in the wind, to be blown hither and thither at random.
She was the anchor and the security, she was the restraining
hand of God, at times highly to be execrated.

Now when Tom Brangwen, at nineteen, a youth fresh like a
plant, rooted in his mother and his sister, found that he had
lain with a prostitute woman in a common public house, he was
very much startled. For him there was until that time only one
kind of woman—his mother and sister.

But now? He did not know what to feel. There was a slight
wonder, a pang of anger, of disappointment, a first taste of ash
and of cold fear lest this was all that would happen, lest his
relations with woman were going to be no more than this
nothingness; there was a slight sense of shame before the
prostitute, fear that she would despise him for his
inefficiency; there was a cold distaste for her, and a fear of
her; there was a moment of paralyzed horror when he felt he
might have taken a disease from her; and upon all this startled
tumult of emotion, was laid the steadying hand of common sense,
which said it did not matter very much, so long as he had no
disease. He soon recovered balance, and really it did not matter
so very much.

But it had shocked him, and put a mistrust into his heart,
and emphasized his fear of what was within himself. He was,
however, in a few days going about again in his own careless,
happy-go-lucky fashion, his blue eyes just as clear and honest
as ever, his face just as fresh, his appetite just as keen.

Or apparently so. He had, in fact, lost some of his buoyant
confidence, and doubt hindered his outgoing.

For some time after this, he was quieter, more conscious when
he drank, more backward from companionship. The disillusion of
his first carnal contact with woman, strengthened by his innate
desire to find in a woman the embodiment of all his
inarticulate, powerful religious impulses, put a bit in his
mouth. He had something to lose which he was afraid of losing,
which he was not sure even of possessing. This first affair did
not matter much: but the business of love was, at the bottom of
his soul, the most serious and terrifying of all to him.

He was tormented now with sex desire, his imagination
reverted always to lustful scenes. But what really prevented his
returning to a loose woman, over and above the natural
squeamishness, was the recollection of the paucity of the last
experience. It had been so nothing, so dribbling and functional,
that he was ashamed to expose himself to the risk of a
repetition of it.

He made a strong, instinctive fight to retain his native
cheerfulness unimpaired. He had naturally a plentiful stream of
life and humour, a sense of sufficiency and exuberance, giving
ease. But now it tended to cause tension. A strained light came
into his eyes, he had a slight knitting of the brows. His
boisterous humour gave place to lowering silences, and days
passed by in a sort of suspense.

He did not know there was any difference in him, exactly; for
the most part he was filled with slow anger and resentment. But
he knew he was always thinking of women, or a woman, day in, day
out, and that infuriated him. He could not get free: and he was
ashamed. He had one or two sweethearts, starting with them in
the hope of speedy development. But when he had a nice girl, he
found that he was incapable of pushing the desired development.
The very presence of the girl beside him made it impossible. He
could not think of her like that, he could not think of her
actual nakedness. She was a girl and he liked her, and dreaded
violently even the thought of uncovering her. He knew that, in
these last issues of nakedness, he did not exist to her nor she
to him. Again, if he had a loose girl, and things began to
develop, she offended him so deeply all the time, that he never
knew whether he was going to get away from her as quickly as
possible, or whether he were going to take her out of inflamed
necessity. Again he learnt his lesson: if he took her it was a
paucity which he was forced to despise. He did not despise
himself nor the girl. But he despised the net result in him of
the experience—he despised it deeply and bitterly.

Then, when he was twenty-three, his mother died, and he was
left at home with Effie. His mother's death was another blow out
of the dark. He could not understand it, he knew it was no good
his trying. One had to submit to these unforeseen blows that
come unawares and leave a bruise that remains and hurts whenever
it is touched. He began to be afraid of all that which was up
against him. He had loved his mother.

After this, Effie and he quarrelled fiercely. They meant a
very great deal to each other, but they were both under a
strange, unnatural tension. He stayed out of the house as much
as possible. He got a special corner for himself at the "Red
Lion" at Cossethay, and became a usual figure by the fire, a
fresh, fair young fellow with heavy limbs and head held back,
mostly silent, though alert and attentive, very hearty in his
greeting of everybody he knew, shy of strangers. He teased all
the women, who liked him extremely, and he was very attentive to
the talk of the men, very respectful.

To drink made him quickly flush very red in the face, and
brought out the look of self-consciousness and unsureness,
almost bewilderment, in his blue eyes. When he came home in this
state of tipsy confusion his sister hated him and abused him,
and he went off his head, like a mad bull with rage.

He had still another turn with a light-o'-love. One
Whitsuntide he went a jaunt with two other young fellows, on
horseback, to Matlock and thence to Bakewell. Matlock was at
that time just becoming a famous beauty-spot, visited from
Manchester and from the Staffordshire towns. In the hotel where
the young men took lunch, were two girls, and the parties struck
up a friendship.

The Miss who made up to Tom Brangwen, then twenty-four years
old, was a handsome, reckless girl neglected for an afternoon by
the man who had brought her out. She saw Brangwen and liked him,
as all women did, for his warmth and his generous nature, and
for the innate delicacy in him. But she saw he was one who would
have to be brought to the scratch. However, she was roused and
unsatisfied and made mischievous, so she dared anything. It
would be an easy interlude, restoring her pride.

She was a handsome girl with a bosom, and dark hair and blue
eyes, a girl full of easy laughter, flushed from the sun,
inclined to wipe her laughing face in a very natural and taking
manner.

Brangwen was in a state of wonder. He treated her with his
chaffing deference, roused, but very unsure of himself, afraid
to death of being too forward, ashamed lest he might be thought
backward, mad with desire yet restrained by instinctive regard
for women from making any definite approach, feeling all the
while that his attitude was ridiculous, and flushing deep with
confusion. She, however, became hard and daring as he became
confused, it amused her to see him come on.

"When must you get back?" she asked.

"I'm not particular," he said.

There the conversation again broke down.

Brangwen's companions were ready to go on.

"Art commin', Tom," they called, "or art for stoppin'?"

"Ay, I'm commin'," he replied, rising reluctantly, an angry
sense of futility and disappointment spreading over him.

He met the full, almost taunting look of the girl, and he
trembled with unusedness.

"Shall you come an' have a look at my mare," he said to her,
with his hearty kindliness that was now shaken with
trepidation.

"Oh, I should like to," she said, rising.

And she followed him, his rather sloping shoulders and his
cloth riding-gaiters, out of the room. The young men got their
own horses out of the stable.

"Can you ride?" Brangwen asked her.

"I should like to if I could—I have never tried," she
said.

"Come then, an' have a try," he said.

And he lifted her, he blushing, she laughing, into the
saddle.

"I s'll slip off—it's not a lady's saddle," she
cried.

"Hold yer tight," he said, and he led her out of the hotel
gate.

The girl sat very insecurely, clinging fast. He put a hand on
her waist, to support her. And he held her closely, he clasped
her as in an embrace, he was weak with desire as he strode
beside her.

The horse walked by the river.

"You want to sit straddle-leg," he said to her.

"I know I do," she said.

It was the time of very full skirts. She managed to get
astride the horse, quite decently, showing an intent concern for
covering her pretty leg.

"It's a lot's better this road," she said, looking down at
him.

"Ay, it is," he said, feeling the marrow melt in his bones
from the look in her eyes. "I dunno why they have that
side-saddle business, twistin' a woman in two."

"Should us leave you then—you seem to be fixed up
there?" called Brangwen's companions from the road.

He went red with anger.

"Ay—don't worry," he called back.

"How long are yer stoppin'?" they asked.

"Not after Christmas," he said.

And the girl gave a tinkling peal of laughter.

"All right—by-bye!" called his friends.

And they cantered off, leaving him very flushed, trying to be
quite normal with the girl. But presently he had gone back to
the hotel and given his horse into the charge of an ostler and
had gone off with the girl into the woods, not quite knowing
where he was or what he was doing. His heart thumped and he
thought it the most glorious adventure, and was mad with desire
for the girl.

Afterwards he glowed with pleasure. By Jove, but that was
something like! He [stayed the afternoon with the girl, and]
wanted to stay the night. She, however, told him this was impossible:
her own man would be back
by dark, and she must be with him. He, Brangwen, must not let on
that there had been anything between them.

She gave him an intimate smile, which made him feel confused
and gratified.

He could not tear himself away, though he had promised not to
interfere with the girl. He stayed on at the hotel over night.
He saw the other fellow at the evening meal: a small,
middle-aged man with iron-grey hair and a curious face, like a
monkey's, but interesting, in its way almost beautiful. Brangwen
guessed that he was a foreigner. He was in company with another,
an Englishman, dry and hard. The four sat at table, two men and
two women. Brangwen watched with all his eyes.

He saw how the foreigner treated the women with courteous
contempt, as if they were pleasing animals. Brangwen's girl had
put on a ladylike manner, but her voice betrayed her. She wanted
to win back her man. When dessert came on, however, the little
foreigner turned round from his table and calmly surveyed the
room, like one unoccupied. Brangwen marvelled over the cold,
animal intelligence of the face. The brown eyes were round,
showing all the brown pupil, like a monkey's, and just calmly
looking, perceiving the other person without referring to him at
all. They rested on Brangwen. The latter marvelled at the old
face turned round on him, looking at him without considering it
necessary to know him at all. The eyebrows of the round,
perceiving, but unconcerned eyes were rather high up, with
slight wrinkles above them, just as a monkey's had. It was an
old, ageless face.

The man was most amazingly a gentleman all the time, an
aristocrat. Brangwen stared fascinated. The girl was pushing her
crumbs about on the cloth, uneasily, flushed and angry.

As Brangwen sat motionless in the hall afterwards, too much
moved and lost to know what to do, the little stranger came up
to him with a beautiful smile and manner, offering a cigarette
and saying:

"Will you smoke?"

Brangwen never smoked cigarettes, yet he took the one
offered, fumbling painfully with thick fingers, blushing to the
roots of his hair. Then he looked with his warm blue eyes at the
almost sardonic, lidded eyes of the foreigner. The latter sat
down beside him, and they began to talk, chiefly of horses.

Brangwen loved the other man for his exquisite graciousness,
for his tact and reserve, and for his ageless, monkey-like
self-surety. They talked of horses, and of Derbyshire, and of
farming. The stranger warmed to the young fellow with real
warmth, and Brangwen was excited. He was transported at meeting
this odd, middle-aged, dry-skinned man, personally. The talk was
pleasant, but that did not matter so much. It was the gracious
manner, the fine contact that was all.

They talked a long while together, Brangwen flushing like a
girl when the other did not understand his idiom. Then they said
good night, and shook hands. Again the foreigner bowed and
repeated his good night.

"Good night, and bon voyage."

Then he turned to the stairs.

Brangwen went up to his room and lay staring out at the stars
of the summer night, his whole being in a whirl. What was it
all? There was a life so different from what he knew it. What
was there outside his knowledge, how much? What was this that he
had touched? What was he in this new influence? What did
everything mean? Where was life, in that which he knew or all
outside him?

He fell asleep, and in the morning had ridden away before any
other visitors were awake. He shrank from seeing any of them
again, in the morning.

His mind was one big excitement. The girl and the foreigner:
he knew neither of their names. Yet they had set fire to the
homestead of his nature, and he would be burned out of cover. Of
the two experiences, perhaps the meeting with the foreigner was
the more significant. But the girl—he had not settled
about the girl.

He did not know. He had to leave it there, as it was. He
could not sum up his experiences.

The result of these encounters was, that he dreamed day and
night, absorbedly, of a voluptuous woman and of the meeting with
a small, withered foreigner of ancient breeding. No sooner was
his mind free, no sooner had he left his own companions, than he
began to imagine an intimacy with fine-textured, subtle-mannered
people such as the foreigner at Matlock, and amidst this subtle
intimacy was always the satisfaction of a voluptuous woman.

He went about absorbed in the interest and the actuality of
this dream. His eyes glowed, he walked with his head up, full of
the exquisite pleasure of aristocratic subtlety and grace,
tormented with the desire for the girl.

Then gradually the glow began to fade, and the cold material
of his customary life to show through. He resented it. Was he
cheated in his illusion? He balked the mean enclosure of
reality, stood stubbornly like a bull at a gate, refusing to
re-enter the well-known round of his own life.

He drank more than usual to keep up the glow. But it faded
more and more for all that. He set his teeth at the commonplace,
to which he would not submit. It resolved itself starkly before
him, for all that.

He wanted to marry, to get settled somehow, to get out of the
quandary he found himself in. But how? He felt unable to move
his limbs. He had seen a little creature caught in bird-lime,
and the sight was a nightmare to him. He began to feel mad with
the rage of impotency.

He wanted something to get hold of, to pull himself out. But
there was nothing. Steadfastly he looked at the young women, to
find a one he could marry. But not one of them did he want. And
he knew that the idea of a life among such people as the
foreigner was ridiculous.

Yet he dreamed of it, and stuck to his dreams, and would not
have the reality of Cossethay and Ilkeston. There he sat
stubbornly in his corner at the "Red Lion", smoking and musing
and occasionally lifting his beer-pot, and saying nothing, for
all the world like a gorping farm-labourer, as he said
himself.

Then a fever of restless anger came upon him. He wanted to go
away—right away. He dreamed of foreign parts. But somehow
he had no contact with them. And it was a very strong root which
held him to the Marsh, to his own house and land.

Then Effie got married, and he was left in the house with
only Tilly, the cross-eyed woman-servant who had been with them
for fifteen years. He felt things coming to a close. All the
time, he had held himself stubbornly resistant to the action of
the commonplace unreality which wanted to absorb him. But now he
had to do something.

He was by nature temperate. Being sensitive and emotional,
his nausea prevented him from drinking too much.

But, in futile anger, with the greatest of determination and
apparent good humour, he began to drink in order to get drunk.
"Damn it," he said to himself, "you must have it one road or
another—you can't hitch your horse to the shadow of a
gate-post—if you've got legs you've got to rise off your
backside some time or other."

So he rose and went down to Ilkeston, rather awkwardly took
his place among a gang of young bloods, stood drinks to the
company, and discovered he could carry it off quite well. He had
an idea that everybody in the room was a man after his own
heart, that everything was glorious, everything was perfect.
When somebody in alarm told him his coat pocket was on fire, he
could only beam from a red, blissful face and say
"Iss-all-ri-ight—iss-al'-ri-ight—it's a'
right—let it be, let it be——" and he laughed
with pleasure, and was rather indignant that the others should
think it unnatural for his coat pocket to burn:—it was the
happiest and most natural thing in the world—what?

He went home talking to himself and to the moon, that was
very high and small, stumbling at the flashes of moonlight from
the puddles at his feet, wondering What the Hanover! then
laughing confidently to the moon, assuring her this was first
class, this was.

In the morning he woke up and thought about it, and for the
first time in his life, knew what it was to feel really acutely
irritable, in a misery of real bad temper. After bawling and
snarling at Tilly, he took himself off for very shame, to be
alone. And looking at the ashen fields and the putty roads, he
wondered what in the name of Hell he could do to get out of this
prickly sense of disgust and physical repulsion. And he knew
that this was the result of his glorious evening.

And his stomach did not want any more brandy. He went
doggedly across the fields with his terrier, and looked at
everything with a jaundiced eye.

The next evening found him back again in his place at the
"Red Lion", moderate and decent. There he sat and stubbornly
waited for what would happen next.

Did he, or did he not believe that he belonged to this world
of Cossethay and Ilkeston? There was nothing in it he wanted.
Yet could he ever get out of it? Was there anything in himself
that would carry him out of it? Or was he a dunderheaded baby,
not man enough to be like the other young fellows who drank a
good deal and wenched a little without any question, and were
satisfied.

He went on stubbornly for a time. Then the strain became too
great for him. A hot, accumulated consciousness was always awake
in his chest, his wrists felt swelled and quivering, his mind
became full of lustful images, his eyes seemed blood-flushed. He
fought with himself furiously, to remain normal. He did not seek
any woman. He just went on as if he were normal. Till he must
either take some action or beat his head against the wall.

Then he went deliberately to Ilkeston, in silence, intent and
beaten. He drank to get drunk. He gulped down the brandy, and
more brandy, till his face became pale, his eyes burning. And
still he could not get free. He went to sleep in drunken
unconsciousness, woke up at four o'clock in the morning and
continued drinking. He would get free. Gradually the
tension in him began to relax. He began to feel happy. His
riveted silence was unfastened, he began to talk and babble. He
was happy and at one with all the world, he was united with all
flesh in a hot blood-relationship. So, after three days of
incessant brandy-drinking, he had burned out the youth from his
blood, he had achieved this kindled state of oneness with all
the world, which is the end of youth's most passionate desire.
But he had achieved his satisfaction by obliterating his own
individuality, that which it depended on his manhood to preserve
and develop.

So he became a bout-drinker, having at intervals these bouts
of three or four days of brandy-drinking, when he was drunk for
the whole time. He did not think about it. A deep resentment
burned in him. He kept aloof from any women, antagonistic.

When he was twenty-eight, a thick-limbed, stiff, fair man
with fresh complexion, and blue eyes staring very straight
ahead, he was coming one day down from Cossethay with a load of
seed out of Nottingham. It was a time when he was getting ready
for another bout of drinking, so he stared fixedly before him,
watchful yet absorbed, seeing everything and aware of nothing,
coiled in himself. It was early in the year.

He walked steadily beside the horse, the load clanked behind
as the hill descended steeper. The road curved down-hill before
him, under banks and hedges, seen only for a few yards
ahead.

Slowly turning the curve at the steepest part of the slope,
his horse britching between the shafts, he saw a woman
approaching. But he was thinking for the moment of the
horse.

Then he turned to look at her. She was dressed in black, was
apparently rather small and slight, beneath her long black
cloak, and she wore a black bonnet. She walked hastily, as if
unseeing, her head rather forward. It was her curious, absorbed,
flitting motion, as if she were passing unseen by everybody,
that first arrested him.

She had heard the cart, and looked up. Her face was pale and
clear, she had thick dark eyebrows and a wide mouth, curiously
held. He saw her face clearly, as if by a light in the air. He
saw her face so distinctly, that he ceased to coil on himself,
and was suspended.

"That's her," he said involuntarily. As the cart passed by,
splashing through the thin mud, she stood back against the bank.
Then, as he walked still beside his britching horse, his eyes
met hers. He looked quickly away, pressing back his head, a pain
of joy running through him. He could not bear to think of
anything.

He turned round at the last moment. He saw her bonnet, her
shape in the black cloak, the movement as she walked. Then she
was gone round the bend.

She had passed by. He felt as if he were walking again in a
far world, not Cossethay, a far world, the fragile reality. He
went on, quiet, suspended, rarefied. He could not bear to think
or to speak, nor make any sound or sign, nor change his fixed
motion. He could scarcely bear to think of her face. He moved
within the knowledge of her, in the world that was beyond
reality.

The feeling that they had exchanged recognition possessed him
like a madness, like a torment. How could he be sure, what
confirmation had he? The doubt was like a sense of infinite
space, a nothingness, annihilating. He kept within his breast
the will to surety. They had exchanged recognition.

He walked about in this state for the next few days. And then
again like a mist it began to break to let through the common,
barren world. He was very gentle with man and beast, but he
dreaded the starkness of disillusion cropping through again.

As he was standing with his back to the fire after dinner a
few days later, he saw the woman passing. He wanted to know that
she knew him, that she was aware. He wanted it said that there
was something between them. So he stood anxiously watching,
looking at her as she went down the road. He called to
Tilly.

"Who might that be?" he asked.

Tilly, the cross-eyed woman of forty, who adored him, ran
gladly to the window to look. She was glad when he asked her for
anything. She craned her head over the short curtain, the little
tight knob of her black hair sticking out pathetically as she
bobbed about.

"Oh why"—she lifted her head and peered with her
twisted, keen brown eyes—"why, you know who it
is—it's her from th' vicarage—you know—"

"How do I know, you hen-bird," he shouted.

Tilly blushed and drew her neck in and looked at him with her
squinting, sharp, almost reproachful look.

"Why you do—it's the new housekeeper."

"Ay—an' what by that?"

"Well, an' what by that?" rejoined the indignant
Tilly.

"She's a woman, isn't she, housekeeper or no housekeeper?
She's got more to her than that! Who is she—she's got a
name?"

"Well, if she has, I don't know," retorted Tilly, not
to be badgered by this lad who had grown up into a man.

"What's her name?" he asked, more gently.

"I'm sure I couldn't tell you," replied Tilly, on her
dignity.

"An' is that all as you've gathered, as she's housekeeping at
the vicarage?"

"I've 'eered mention of 'er name, but I couldn't remember it
for my life."

"Why, yer riddle-skulled woman o' nonsense, what have you got
a head for?"

"For what other folks 'as got theirs for," retorted Tilly,
who loved nothing more than these tilts when he would call her
names.

There was a lull.

"I don't believe as anybody could keep it in their head," the
woman-servant continued, tentatively.

"What?" he asked.

"Why, 'er name."

"How's that?"

"She's fra some foreign parts or other."

"Who told you that?"

"That's all I do know, as she is."

"An' wheer do you reckon she's from, then?"

"I don't know. They do say as she hails fra th' Pole. I don't
know," Tilly hastened to add, knowing he would attack her.

"Fra th' Pole, why do you hail fra th' Pole? Who set
up that menagerie confabulation?"

"That's what they say—I don't know——"

"Who says?"

"Mrs. Bentley says as she's fra th' Pole—else she is a
Pole, or summat."

Tilly was only afraid she was landing herself deeper now.

"Who says she's a Pole?"

"They all say so."

"Then what's brought her to these parts?"

"I couldn't tell you. She's got a little girl with her."

"Got a little girl with her?"

"Of three or four, with a head like a fuzz-ball."

"Black?"

"White—fair as can be, an' all of a fuzz."

"Is there a father, then?"

"Not to my knowledge. I don't know."

"What brought her here?"

"I couldn't say, without th' vicar axed her."

"Is the child her child?"

"I s'd think so—they say so."

"Who told you about her?"

"Why, Lizzie—a-Monday—we seed her goin'
past."

"You'd have to be rattling your tongues if anything went
past."

Brangwen stood musing. That evening he went up to Cossethay
to the "Red Lion", half with the intention of hearing more.

She was the widow of a Polish doctor, he gathered. Her
husband had died, a refugee, in London. She spoke a bit
foreign-like, but you could easily make out what she said. She
had one little girl named Anna. Lensky was the woman's name,
Mrs. Lensky.

Brangwen felt that here was the unreality established at
last. He felt also a curious certainty about her, as if she were
destined to him. It was to him a profound satisfaction that she
was a foreigner.

A swift change had taken place on the earth for him, as if a
new creation were fulfilled, in which he had real existence.
Things had all been stark, unreal, barren, mere nullities
before. Now they were actualities that he could handle.

He dared scarcely think of the woman. He was afraid. Only all
the time he was aware of her presence not far off, he lived in
her. But he dared not know her, even acquaint himself with her
by thinking of her.

One day he met her walking along the road with her little
girl. It was a child with a face like a bud of apple-blossom,
and glistening fair hair like thistle-down sticking out in
straight, wild, flamy pieces, and very dark eyes. The child
clung jealously to her mother's side when he looked at her,
staring with resentful black eyes. But the mother glanced at him
again, almost vacantly. And the very vacancy of her look
inflamed him. She had wide grey-brown eyes with very dark,
fathomless pupils. He felt the fine flame running under his
skin, as if all his veins had caught fire on the surface. And he
went on walking without knowledge.

It was coming, he knew, his fate. The world was submitting to
its transformation. He made no move: it would come, what would
come.

When his sister Effie came to the Marsh for a week, he went
with her for once to church. In the tiny place, with its mere
dozen pews, he sat not far from the stranger. There was a
fineness about her, a poignancy about the way she sat and held
her head lifted. She was strange, from far off, yet so intimate.
She was from far away, a presence, so close to his soul. She was
not really there, sitting in Cossethay church beside her little
girl. She was not living the apparent life of her days. She
belonged to somewhere else. He felt it poignantly, as something
real and natural. But a pang of fear for his own concrete life,
that was only Cossethay, hurt him, and gave him misgiving.

Her thick dark brows almost met above her irregular nose, she
had a wide, rather thick mouth. But her face was lifted to
another world of life: not to heaven or death: but to some place
where she still lived, in spite of her body's absence.

The child beside her watched everything with wide, black
eyes. She had an odd little defiant look, her little red mouth
was pinched shut. She seemed to be jealously guarding something,
to be always on the alert for defence. She met Brangwen's near,
vacant, intimate gaze, and a palpitating hostility, almost like
a flame of pain, came into the wide, over-conscious dark
eyes.

The old clergyman droned on, Cossethay sat unmoved as usual.
And there was the foreign woman with a foreign air about her,
inviolate, and the strange child, also foreign, jealously
guarding something.

When the service was over, he walked in the way of another
existence out of the church. As he went down the church-path
with his sister, behind the woman and child, the little girl
suddenly broke from her mother's hand, and slipped back with
quick, almost invisible movement, and was picking at something
almost under Brangwen's feet. Her tiny fingers were fine and
quick, but they missed the red button.

"Have you found something?" said Brangwen to her.

And he also stooped for the button. But she had got it, and
she stood back with it pressed against her little coat, her
black eyes flaring at him, as if to forbid him to notice her.
Then, having silenced him, she turned with a swift
"Mother——," and was gone down the path.

The mother had stood watching impassive, looking not at the
child, but at Brangwen. He became aware of the woman looking at
him, standing there isolated yet for him dominant in her foreign
existence.

He did not know what to do, and turned to his sister. But the
wide grey eyes, almost vacant yet so moving, held him beyond
himself.

"Mother, I may have it, mayn't I?" came the child's proud,
silvery tones. "Mother"-she seemed always to be calling her
mother to remember her-"mother"-and she had nothing to continue
now her mother had replied "Yes, my child." But, with ready
invention, the child stumbled and ran on, "What are those
people's names?"

Brangwen heard the abstract:

"I don't know, dear."

He went on down the road as if he were not living inside
himself, but somewhere outside.

"Who was that person?" his sister Effie asked.

"I couldn't tell you," he answered unknowing.

"She's somebody very funny," said Effie, almost in
condemnation. "That child's like one bewitched."

"Bewitched—how bewitched?" he repeated.

"You can see for yourself. The mother's plain, I must
say—but the child is like a changeling. She'd be about
thirty-five."

But he took no notice. His sister talked on.

"There's your woman for you," she continued. "You'd better
marry her." But still he took no notice. Things were as
they were.

Another day, at tea-time, as he sat alone at table, there
came a knock at the front door. It startled him like a portent.
No one ever knocked at the front door. He rose and began
slotting back the bolts, turning the big key. When he had opened
the door, the strange woman stood on the threshold.

"Can you give me a pound of butter?" she asked, in a curious
detached way of one speaking a foreign language.

He tried to attend to her question. She was looking at him
questioningly. But underneath the question, what was there, in
her very standing motionless, which affected him?

He stepped aside and she at once entered the house, as if the
door had been opened to admit her. That startled him. It was the
custom for everybody to wait on the doorstep till asked inside.
He went into the kitchen and she followed.

His tea-things were spread on the scrubbed deal table, a big
fire was burning, a dog rose from the hearth and went to her.
She stood motionless just inside the kitchen.

"Tilly," he called loudly, "have we got any butter?"

The stranger stood there like a silence in her black
cloak.

"Eh?" came the shrill cry from the distance.

He shouted his question again.

"We've got what's on t' table," answered Tilly's shrill voice
out of the dairy.

Brangwen looked at the table. There was a large pat of butter
on a plate, almost a pound. It was round, and stamped with
acorns and oak-leaves.

"Can't you come when you're wanted?" he shouted.

"Why, what d'you want?" Tilly protested, as she came peeking
inquisitively through the other door.

She saw the strange woman, stared at her with cross-eyes, but
said nothing.

"Haven't we any butter?" asked Brangwen again,
impatiently, as if he could command some by his question.

"I tell you there's what's on t' table," said Tilly,
impatient that she was unable to create any to his demand. "We
haven't a morsel besides."

There was a moment's silence.

The stranger spoke, in her curiously distinct, detached
manner of one who must think her speech first.

"Oh, then thank you very much. I am sorry that I have come to
trouble you."

She could not understand the entire lack of manners, was
slightly puzzled. Any politeness would have made the situation
quite impersonal. But here it was a case of wills in confusion.
Brangwen flushed at her polite speech. Still he did not let her
go.

"Get summat an' wrap that up for her," he said to
Tilly, looking at the butter on the table.

And taking a clean knife, he cut off that side of the butter
where it was touched.

His speech, the "for her", penetrated slowly into the foreign
woman and angered Tilly.

"Vicar has his butter fra Brown's by rights," said the
insuppressible servant-woman. "We s'll be churnin' to-morrow
mornin' first thing."

"Yes"—the long-drawn foreign yes—"yes," said the
Polish woman, "I went to Mrs. Brown's. She hasn't any more."

Tilly bridled her head, bursting to say that, according to
the etiquette of people who bought butter, it was no sort of
manners whatever coming to a place cool as you like and knocking
at the front door asking for a pound as a stop-gap while your
other people were short. If you go to Brown's you go to Brown's,
an' my butter isn't just to make shift when Brown's has got
none.

Brangwen understood perfectly this unspoken speech of
Tilly's. The Polish lady did not. And as she wanted butter for
the vicar, and as Tilly was churning in the morning, she
waited.

"Sluther up now," said Brangwen loudly after this silence had
resolved itself out; and Tilly disappeared through the inner
door.

"I am afraid that I should not come, so," said the stranger,
looking at him enquiringly, as if referring to him for what it
was usual to do.

He felt confused.

"How's that?" he said, trying to be genial and being only
protective.

"Do you——?" she began deliberately. But she was
not sure of her ground, and the conversation came to an end. Her
eyes looked at him all the while, because she could not speak
the language.

They stood facing each other. The dog walked away from her to
him. He bent down to it.

"And how's your little girl?" he asked.

"Yes, thank you, she is very well," was the reply, a phrase
of polite speech in a foreign language merely.

"Sit you down," he said.

And she sat in a chair, her slim arms, coming through the
slits of her cloak, resting on her lap.

"You're not used to these parts," he said, still standing on
the hearthrug with his back to the fire, coatless, looking with
curious directness at the woman. Her self-possession pleased him
and inspired him, set him curiously free. It seemed to him
almost brutal to feel so master of himself and of the
situation.

Her eyes rested on him for a moment, questioning, as she
thought of the meaning of his speech.

"No," she said, understanding. "No—it is strange."

"You find it middlin' rough?" he said.

Her eyes waited on him, so that he should say it again.

"Our ways are rough to you," he repeated.

"Yes—yes, I understand. Yes, it is different, it is
strange. But I was in Yorkshire——"

"Oh, well then," he said, "it's no worse here than what they
are up there."

She did not quite understand. His protective manner, and his
sureness, and his intimacy, puzzled her. What did he mean? If he
was her equal, why did he behave so without formality?

"No——" she said, vaguely, her eyes resting on
him.

She saw him fresh and naïve, uncouth, almost entirely
beyond relationship with her. Yet he was good-looking, with his
fair hair and blue eyes full of energy, and with his healthy
body that seemed to take equality with her. She watched him
steadily. He was difficult for her to understand, warm, uncouth,
and confident as he was, sure on his feet as if he did not know
what it was to be unsure. What then was it that gave him this
curious stability?

She did not know. She wondered. She looked round the room he
lived in. It had a close intimacy that fascinated and almost
frightened her. The furniture was old and familiar as old
people, the whole place seemed so kin to him, as if it partook
of his being, that she was uneasy.

"It is already a long time that you have lived in this
house—yes?" she asked.

"I've always lived here," he said.

"Yes—but your people—your family?"

"We've been here above two hundred years," he said. Her eyes
were on him all the time, wide-open and trying to grasp him. He
felt that he was there for her.

"It is your own place, the house, the
farm——?"

"Yes," he said. He looked down at her and met her look. It
disturbed her. She did not know him. He was a foreigner, they
had nothing to do with each other. Yet his look disturbed her to
knowledge of him. He was so strangely confident and direct.

"You live quite alone?"

"Yes—if you call it alone?"

She did not understand. It seemed unusual to her. What was
the meaning of it?

And whenever her eyes, after watching him for some time,
inevitably met his, she was aware of a heat beating up over her
consciousness. She sat motionless and in conflict. Who was this
strange man who was at once so near to her? What was happening
to her? Something in his young, warm-twinkling eyes seemed to
assume a right to her, to speak to her, to extend her his
protection. But how? Why did he speak to her? Why were his eyes
so certain, so full of light and confident, waiting for no
permission nor signal?

Tilly returned with a large leaf and found the two silent. At
once he felt it incumbent on him to speak, now the serving-woman
had come back.

"How old is your little girl?" he asked.

"Four years," she replied.

"Her father hasn't been dead long, then?" he asked.

"She was one year when he died."

"Three years?"

"Yes, three years that he is dead—yes."

Curiously quiet she was, almost abstracted, answering these
questions. She looked at him again, with some maidenhood opening
in her eyes. He felt he could not move, neither towards her nor
away from her. Something about her presence hurt him, till he
was almost rigid before her. He saw the girl's wondering look
rise in her eyes.

Tilly handed her the butter and she rose.

"Thank you very much," she said. "How much is it?"

"We'll make th' vicar a present of it," he said. "It'll do
for me goin' to church."

"It 'ud look better of you if you went to church and took th'
money for your butter," said Tilly, persistent in her claim to
him.

"You'd have to put in, shouldn't you?" he said.

"How much, please?" said the Polish woman to Tilly. Brangwen
stood by and let be.

"Then, thank you very much," she said.

"Bring your little girl down sometime to look at th' fowls
and horses," he said,—"if she'd like it."

"Yes, she would like it," said the stranger.

And she went. Brangwen stood dimmed by her departure. He
could not notice Tilly, who was looking at him uneasily, wanting
to be reassured. He could not think of anything. He felt that he
had made some invisible connection with the strange woman.

A daze had come over his mind, he had another centre of
consciousness. In his breast, or in his bowels, somewhere in his
body, there had started another activity. It was as if a strong
light were burning there, and he was blind within it, unable to
know anything, except that this transfiguration burned between
him and her, connecting them, like a secret power.

Since she had come to the house he went about in a daze,
scarcely seeing even the things he handled, drifting, quiescent,
in a state of metamorphosis. He submitted to that which was
happening to him, letting go his will, suffering the loss of
himself, dormant always on the brink of ecstasy, like a creature
evolving to a new birth.

She came twice with her child to the farm, but there was this
lull between them, an intense calm and passivity like a torpor
upon them, so that there was no active change took place. He was
almost unaware of the child, yet by his native good humour he
gained her confidence, even her affection, setting her on a
horse to ride, giving her corn for the fowls.

Once he drove the mother and child from Ilkeston, picking
them up on the road. The child huddled close to him as if for
love, the mother sat very still. There was a vagueness, like a
soft mist over all of them, and a silence as if their wills were
suspended. Only he saw her hands, ungloved, folded in her lap,
and he noticed the wedding-ring on her finger. It excluded him:
it was a closed circle. It bound her life, the wedding-ring, it
stood for her life in which he could have no part. Nevertheless,
beyond all this, there was herself and himself which should
meet.

As he helped her down from the trap, almost lifting her, he
felt he had some right to take her thus between his hands. She
belonged as yet to that other, to that which was behind. But he
must care for her also. She was too living to be neglected.

Sometimes her vagueness, in which he was lost, made him
angry, made him rage. But he held himself still as yet. She had
no response, no being towards him. It puzzled and enraged him,
but he submitted for a long time. Then, from the accumulated
troubling of her ignoring him, gradually a fury broke out,
destructive, and he wanted to go away, to escape her.

It happened she came down to the Marsh with the child whilst
he was in this state. Then he stood over against her, strong and
heavy in his revolt, and though he said nothing, still she felt
his anger and heavy impatience grip hold of her, she was shaken
again as out of a torpor. Again her heart stirred with a quick,
out-running impulse, she looked at him, at the stranger who was
not a gentleman yet who insisted on coming into her life, and
the pain of a new birth in herself strung all her veins to a new
form. She would have to begin again, to find a new being, a new
form, to respond to that blind, insistent figure standing over
against her.

A shiver, a sickness of new birth passed over her, the flame
leaped up him, under his skin. She wanted it, this new life from
him, with him, yet she must defend herself against it, for it
was a destruction.

As he worked alone on the land, or sat up with his ewes at
lambing time, the facts and material of his daily life fell
away, leaving the kernel of his purpose clean. And then it came
upon him that he would marry her and she would be his life.

Gradually, even without seeing her, he came to know her. He
would have liked to think of her as of something given into his
protection, like a child without parents. But it was forbidden
him. He had to come down from this pleasant view of the case.
She might refuse him. And besides, he was afraid of her.

But during the long February nights with the ewes in labour,
looking out from the shelter into the flashing stars, he knew he
did not belong to himself. He must admit that he was only
fragmentary, something incomplete and subject. There were the
stars in the dark heaven travelling, the whole host passing by
on some eternal voyage. So he sat small and submissive to the
greater ordering.

Unless she would come to him, he must remain as a
nothingness. It was a hard experience. But, after her repeated
obliviousness to him, after he had seen so often that he did not
exist for her, after he had raged and tried to escape, and said
he was good enough by himself, he was a man, and could stand
alone, he must, in the starry multiplicity of the night humble
himself, and admit and know that without her he was nothing.

He was nothing. But with her, he would be real. If she were
now walking across the frosty grass near the sheep-shelter,
through the fretful bleating of the ewes and lambs, she would
bring him completeness and perfection. And if it should be so,
that she should come to him! It should be so—it was
ordained so.

He was a long time resolving definitely to ask her to marry
him. And he knew, if he asked her, she must really acquiesce.
She must, it could not be otherwise.

He had learned a little of her. She was poor, quite alone,
and had had a hard time in London, both before and after her
husband died. But in Poland she was a lady well born, a
landowner's daughter.

All these things were only words to him, the fact of her
superior birth, the fact that her husband had been a brilliant
doctor, the fact that he himself was her inferior in almost
every way of distinction. There was an inner reality, a logic of
the soul, which connected her with him.

One evening in March, when the wind was roaring outside, came
the moment to ask her. He had sat with his hands before him,
leaning to the fire. And as he watched the fire, he knew almost
without thinking that he was going this evening.

"Have you got a clean shirt?" he asked Tilly.

"You know you've got clean shirts," she said.

"Ay,—bring me a white one."

Tilly brought down one of the linen shirts he had inherited
from his father, putting it before him to air at the fire. She
loved him with a dumb, aching love as he sat leaning with his
arms on his knees, still and absorbed, unaware of her. Lately, a
quivering inclination to cry had come over her, when she did
anything for him in his presence. Now her hands trembled as she
spread the shirt. He was never shouting and teasing now. The
deep stillness there was in the house made her tremble.

He went to wash himself. Queer little breaks of consciousness
seemed to rise and burst like bubbles out of the depths of his
stillness.

"It's got to be done," he said as he stooped to take the
shirt out of the fender, "it's got to be done, so why balk it?"
And as he combed his hair before the mirror on the wall, he
retorted to himself, superficially: "The woman's not speechless
dumb. She's not clutterin' at the nipple. She's got the right to
please herself, and displease whosoever she likes."

This streak of common sense carried him a little further.

"Did you want anythink?" asked Tilly, suddenly appearing,
having heard him speak. She stood watching him comb his fair
beard. His eyes were calm and uninterrupted.

"Ay," he said, "where have you put the scissors?"

She brought them to him, and stood watching as, chin forward,
he trimmed his beard.

"Don't go an' crop yourself as if you was at a shearin'
contest," she said, anxiously. He blew the fine-curled hair
quickly off his lips.

He put on all clean clothes, folded his stock carefully, and
donned his best coat. Then, being ready, as grey twilight was
falling, he went across to the orchard to gather the daffodils.
The wind was roaring in the apple trees, the yellow flowers
swayed violently up and down, he heard even the fine whisper of
their spears as he stooped to break the flattened, brittle stems
of the flowers.

"What's to-do?" shouted a friend who met him as he left the
garden gate.

"Bit of courtin', like," said Brangwen.

And Tilly, in a great state of trepidation and excitement,
let the wind whisk her over the field to the big gate, whence
she could watch him go.

He went up the hill and on towards the vicarage, the wind
roaring through the hedges, whilst he tried to shelter his bunch
of daffodils by his side. He did not think of anything, only
knew that the wind was blowing.

Night was falling, the bare trees drummed and whistled. The
vicar, he knew, would be in his study, the Polish woman in the
kitchen, a comfortable room, with her child. In the darkest of
twilight, he went through the gate and down the path where a few
daffodils stooped in the wind, and shattered crocuses made a
pale, colourless ravel.

There was a light streaming on to the bushes at the back from
the kitchen window. He began to hesitate. How could he do this?
Looking through the window, he saw her seated in the
rocking-chair with the child, already in its nightdress, sitting
on her knee. The fair head with its wild, fierce hair was
drooping towards the fire-warmth, which reflected on the bright
cheeks and clear skin of the child, who seemed to be musing,
almost like a grown-up person. The mother's face was dark and
still, and he saw, with a pang, that she was away back in the
life that had been. The child's hair gleamed like spun glass,
her face was illuminated till it seemed like wax lit up from the
inside. The wind boomed strongly. Mother and child sat
motionless, silent, the child staring with vacant dark eyes into
the fire, the mother looking into space. The little girl was
almost asleep. It was her will which kept her eyes so wide.

Suddenly she looked round, troubled, as the wind shook the
house, and Brangwen saw the small lips move. The mother began to
rock, he heard the slight crunch of the rockers of the chair.
Then he heard the low, monotonous murmur of a song in a foreign
language. Then a great burst of wind, the mother seemed to have
drifted away, the child's eyes were black and dilated. Brangwen
looked up at the clouds which packed in great, alarming haste
across the dark sky.

Then there came the child's high, complaining, yet imperative
voice:

"Don't sing that stuff, mother; I don't want to hear it."

The singing died away.

"You will go to bed," said the mother.

He saw the clinging protest of the child, the unmoved
farawayness of the mother, the clinging, grasping effort of the
child. Then suddenly the clear childish challenge:

"I want you to tell me a story."

The wind blew, the story began, the child nestled against the
mother, Brangwen waited outside, suspended, looking at the wild
waving of the trees in the wind and the gathering darkness. He
had his fate to follow, he lingered there at the threshold.

The child crouched distinct and motionless, curled in against
her mother, the eyes dark and unblinking among the keen wisps of
hair, like a curled-up animal asleep but for the eyes. The
mother sat as if in shadow, the story went on as if by itself.
Brangwen stood outside seeing the night fall. He did not notice
the passage of time. The hand that held the daffodils was fixed
and cold.

The story came to an end, the mother rose at last, with the
child clinging round her neck. She must be strong, to carry so
large a child so easily. The little Anna clung round her
mother's neck. The fair, strange face of the child looked over
the shoulder of the mother, all asleep but the eyes, and these,
wide and dark, kept up the resistance and the fight with
something unseen.

When they were gone, Brangwen stirred for the first time from
the place where he stood, and looked round at the night. He
wished it were really as beautiful and familiar as it seemed in
these few moments of release. Along with the child, he felt a
curious strain on him, a suffering, like a fate.

The mother came down again, and began folding the child's
clothes. He knocked. She opened wondering, a little bit at bay,
like a foreigner, uneasy.

"Good evening," he said. "I'll just come in a minute."

A change went quickly over her face; she was unprepared. She
looked down at him as he stood in the light from the window,
holding the daffodils, the darkness behind. In his black clothes
she again did not know him. She was almost afraid.

But he was already stepping on to the threshold, and closing
the door behind him. She turned into the kitchen, startled out
of herself by this invasion from the night. He took off his hat,
and came towards her. Then he stood in the light, in his black
clothes and his black stock, hat in one hand and yellow flowers
in the other. She stood away, at his mercy, snatched out of
herself. She did not know him, only she knew he was a man come
for her. She could only see the dark-clad man's figure standing
there upon her, and the gripped fist of flowers. She could not
see the face and the living eyes.

He was watching her, without knowing her, only aware
underneath of her presence.

"I come to have a word with you," he said, striding forward
to the table, laying down his hat and the flowers, which tumbled
apart and lay in a loose heap. She had flinched from his
advance. She had no will, no being. The wind boomed in the
chimney, and he waited. He had disembarrassed his hands. Now he
shut his fists.

He was aware of her standing there unknown, dread, yet
related to him.

"I came up," he said, speaking curiously matter-of-fact and
level, "to ask if you'd marry me. You are free, aren't you?"

There was a long silence, whilst his blue eyes, strangely
impersonal, looked into her eyes to seek an answer to the truth.
He was looking for the truth out of her. And she, as if
hypnotized, must answer at length.

"Yes, I am free to marry."

The expression of his eyes changed, became less impersonal,
as if he were looking almost at her, for the truth of her.
Steady and intent and eternal they were, as if they would never
change. They seemed to fix and to resolve her. She quivered,
feeling herself created, will-less, lapsing into him, into a
common will with him.

"You want me?" she said.

A pallor came over his face.

"Yes," he said.

Still there was no response and silence.

"No," she said, not of herself. "No, I don't know."

He felt the tension breaking up in him, his fists slackened,
he was unable to move. He stood there looking at her, helpless
in his vague collapse. For the moment she had become unreal to
him. Then he saw her come to him, curiously direct and as if
without movement, in a sudden flow. She put her hand to his
coat.

"Yes I want to," she said, impersonally, looking at him with
wide, candid, newly-opened eyes, opened now with supreme truth.
He went very white as he stood, and did not move, only his eyes
were held by hers, and he suffered. She seemed to see him with
her newly-opened, wide eyes, almost of a child, and with a
strange movement, that was agony to him, she reached slowly
forward her dark face and her breast to him, with a slow
insinuation of a kiss that made something break in his brain,
and it was darkness over him for a few moments.

He had her in his arms, and, obliterated, was kissing her.
And it was sheer, bleached agony to him, to break away from
himself. She was there so small and light and accepting in his
arms, like a child, and yet with such an insinuation of embrace,
of infinite embrace, that he could not bear it, he could not
stand.

He turned and looked for a chair, and keeping her still in
his arms, sat down with her close to him, to his breast. Then,
for a few seconds, he went utterly to sleep, asleep and sealed
in the darkest sleep, utter, extreme oblivion.

From which he came to gradually, always holding her warm and
close upon him, and she as utterly silent as he, involved in the
same oblivion, the fecund darkness.

He returned gradually, but newly created, as after a
gestation, a new birth, in the womb of darkness. Aerial and
light everything was, new as a morning, fresh and newly-begun.
Like a dawn the newness and the bliss filled in. And she sat
utterly still with him, as if in the same.

Then she looked up at him, the wide, young eyes blazing with
light. And he bent down and kissed her on the lips. And the dawn
blazed in them, their new life came to pass, it was beyond all
conceiving good, it was so good, that it was almost like a
passing-away, a trespass. He drew her suddenly closer to
him.

For soon the light began to fade in her, gradually, and as
she was in his arms, her head sank, she leaned it against him,
and lay still, with sunk head, a little tired, effaced because
she was tired. And in her tiredness was a certain negation of
him.

"There is the child," she said, out of the long silence.

He did not understand. It was a long time since he had heard
a voice. Now also he heard the wind roaring, as if it had just
begun again.

"Yes," he said, not understanding. There was a slight
contraction of pain at his heart, a slight tension on his brows.
Something he wanted to grasp and could not.

"You will love her?" she said.

The quick contraction, like pain, went over him again.

"I love her now," he said.

She lay still against him, taking his physical warmth without
heed. It was great confirmation for him to feel her there,
absorbing the warmth from him, giving him back her weight and
her strange confidence. But where was she, that she seemed so
absent? His mind was open with wonder. He did not know her.

"But I am much older than you," she said.

"How old?" he asked.

"I am thirty-four," she said.

"I am twenty-eight," he said.

"Six years."

She was oddly concerned, even as if it pleased her a little.
He sat and listened and wondered. It was rather splendid, to be
so ignored by her, whilst she lay against him, and he lifted her
with his breathing, and felt her weight upon his living, so he
had a completeness and an inviolable power. He did not interfere
with her. He did not even know her. It was so strange that she
lay there with her weight abandoned upon him. He was silent with
delight. He felt strong, physically, carrying her on his
breathing. The strange, inviolable completeness of the two of
them made him feel as sure and as stable as God. Amused, he
wondered what the vicar would say if he knew.

"You needn't stop here much longer, housekeeping," he
said.

"I like it also, here," she said. "When one has been in many
places, it is very nice here."

He was silent again at this. So close on him she lay, and yet
she answered him from so far away. But he did not mind.

"What was your own home like, when you were little?" he
asked.

"My father was a landowner," she replied. "It was near a
river."

This did not convey much to him. All was as vague as before.
But he did not care, whilst she was so close.

"I am a landowner—a little one," he said.

"Yes," she said.

He had not dared to move. He sat there with his arms round
her, her lying motionless on his breathing, and for a long time
he did not stir. Then softly, timidly, his hand settled on the
roundness of her arm, on the unknown. She seemed to lie a little
closer. A hot flame licked up from his belly to his chest.

But it was too soon. She rose, and went across the room to a
drawer, taking out a little tray-cloth. There was something
quiet and professional about her. She had been a nurse beside
her husband, both in Warsaw and in the rebellion afterwards. She
proceeded to set a tray. It was as if she ignored Brangwen. He
sat up, unable to bear a contradiction in her. She moved about
inscrutably.

Then, as he sat there, all mused and wondering, she came near
to him, looking at him with wide, grey eyes that almost smiled
with a low light. But her ugly-beautiful mouth was still unmoved
and sad. He was afraid.

His eyes, strained and roused with unusedness, quailed a
little before her, he felt himself quailing and yet he rose, as
if obedient to her, he bent and kissed her heavy, sad, wide
mouth, that was kissed, and did not alter. Fear was too strong
in him. Again he had not got her.

She turned away. The vicarage kitchen was untidy, and yet to
him beautiful with the untidiness of her and her child. Such a
wonderful remoteness there was about her, and then something in
touch with him, that made his heart knock in his chest. He stood
there and waited, suspended.

Again she came to him, as he stood in his black clothes, with
blue eyes very bright and puzzled for her, his face tensely
alive, his hair dishevelled. She came close up to him, to his
intent, black-clothed body, and laid her hand on his arm. He
remained unmoved. Her eyes, with a blackness of memory
struggling with passion, primitive and electric away at the back
of them, rejected him and absorbed him at once. But he remained
himself. He breathed with difficulty, and sweat came out at the
roots of his hair, on his forehead.

"Do you want to marry me?" she asked slowly, always
uncertain.

He was afraid lest he could not speak. He drew breath hard,
saying:

"I do."

Then again, what was agony to him, with one hand lightly
resting on his arm, she leaned forward a little, and with a
strange, primeval suggestion of embrace, held him her mouth. It
was ugly-beautiful, and he could not bear it. He put his mouth
on hers, and slowly, slowly the response came, gathering force
and passion, till it seemed to him she was thundering at him
till he could bear no more. He drew away, white, unbreathing.
Only, in his blue eyes, was something of himself concentrated.
And in her eyes was a little smile upon a black void.

She was drifting away from him again. And he wanted to go
away. It was intolerable. He could bear no more. He must go. Yet
he was irresolute. But she turned away from him.

With a little pang of anguish, of denial, it was decided.

"I'll come an' speak to the vicar to-morrow," he said, taking
his hat.

She looked at him, her eyes expressionless and full of
darkness. He could see no answer.

"That'll do, won't it?" he said.

"Yes," she answered, mere echo without body or meaning.

"Good night," he said.

"Good night."

He left her standing there, expressionless and void as she
was. Then she went on laying the tray for the vicar. Needing the
table, she put the daffodils aside on the dresser without
noticing them. Only their coolness, touching her hand, remained
echoing there a long while.

They were such strangers, they must for ever be such
strangers, that his passion was a clanging torment to him. Such
intimacy of embrace, and such utter foreignness of contact! It
was unbearable. He could not bear to be near her, and know the
utter foreignness between them, know how entirely they were
strangers to each other. He went out into the wind. Big holes
were blown into the sky, the moonlight blew about. Sometimes a
high moon, liquid-brilliant, scudded across a hollow space and
took cover under electric, brown-iridescent cloud-edges. Then
there was a blot of cloud, and shadow. Then somewhere in the
night a radiance again, like a vapour. And all the sky was
teeming and tearing along, a vast disorder of flying shapes and
darkness and ragged fumes of light and a great brown circling
halo, then the terror of a moon running liquid-brilliant into
the open for a moment, hurting the eyes before she plunged under
cover of cloud again.







CHAPTER II

THEY LIVE AT THE MARSH

She was the daughter of a Polish landowner who, deeply in
debt to the Jews, had married a German wife with money, and who
had died just before the rebellion. Quite young, she had married
Paul Lensky, an intellectual who had studied at Berlin, and had
returned to Warsaw a patriot. Her mother had married a German
merchant and gone away.

Lydia Lensky, married to the young doctor, became with him a
patriot and an émancipée. They were poor, but they
were very conceited. She learned nursing as a mark of her
emancipation. They represented in Poland the new movement just
begun in Russia. But they were very patriotic: and, at the same
time, very "European".

They had two children. Then came the great rebellion. Lensky,
very ardent and full of words, went about inciting his
countrymen. Little Poles flamed down the streets of Warsaw, on
the way to shoot every Muscovite. So they crossed into the south
of Russia, and it was common for six little insurgents to ride
into a Jewish village, brandishing swords and words, emphasizing
the fact that they were going to shoot every living
Muscovite.

Lensky was something of a fire-eater also. Lydia, tempered by
her German blood, coming of a different family, was obliterated,
carried along in her husband's emphasis of declaration, and his
whirl of patriotism. He was indeed a brave man, but no bravery
could quite have equalled the vividness of his talk. He worked
very hard, till nothing lived in him but his eyes. And Lydia, as
if drugged, followed him like a shadow, serving, echoing.
Sometimes she had her two children, sometimes they were left
behind.

She returned once to find them both dead of diphtheria. Her
husband wept aloud, unaware of everybody. But the war went on,
and soon he was back at his work. A darkness had come over
Lydia's mind. She walked always in a shadow, silenced, with a
strange, deep terror having hold of her, her desire was to seek
satisfaction in dread, to enter a nunnery, to satisfy the
instincts of dread in her, through service of a dark religion.
But she could not.

Then came the flight to London. Lensky, the little, thin man,
had got all his life locked into a resistance and could not
relax again. He lived in a sort of insane irritability, touchy,
haughty to the last degree, fractious, so that as assistant
doctor in one of the hospitals he soon became impossible. They
were almost beggars. But he kept still his great ideas of
himself, he seemed to live in a complete hallucination, where he
himself figured vivid and lordly. He guarded his wife jealously
against the ignominy of her position, rushed round her like a
brandished weapon, an amazing sight to the English eye, had her
in his power, as if he hypnotized her. She was passive, dark,
always in shadow.

He was wasting away. Already when the child was born he
seemed nothing but skin and bone and fixed idea. She watched him
dying, nursed him, nursed the baby, but really took no notice of
anything. A darkness was on her, like remorse, or like a
remembering of the dark, savage, mystic ride of dread, of death,
of the shadow of revenge. When her husband died, she was
relieved. He would no longer dart about her.

England fitted her mood, its aloofness and foreignness. She
had known a little of the language before coming, and a sort of
parrot-mind made her pick it up fairly easily. But she knew
nothing of the English, nor of English life. Indeed, these did
not exist for her. She was like one walking in the Underworld,
where the shades throng intelligibly but have no connection with
one. She felt the English people as a potent, cold, slightly
hostile host amongst whom she walked isolated.

The English people themselves were almost deferential to her,
the Church saw that she did not want. She walked without
passion, like a shade, tormented into moments of love by the
child. Her dying husband with his tortured eyes and the skin
drawn tight over his face, he was as a vision to her, not a
reality. In a vision he was buried and put away. Then the vision
ceased, she was untroubled, time went on grey, uncoloured, like
a long journey where she sat unconscious as the landscape
unrolled beside her. When she rocked her baby at evening, maybe
she fell into a Polish slumber song, or she talked sometimes to
herself in Polish. Otherwise she did not think of Poland, nor of
that life to which she had belonged. It was a great blot looming
blank in its darkness. In the superficial activity of her life,
she was all English. She even thought in English. But her long
blanks and darknesses of abstraction were Polish.

So she lived for some time. Then, with slight uneasiness, she
used half to awake to the streets of London. She realized that
there was something around her, very foreign, she realized she
was in a strange place. And then, she was sent away into the
country. There came into her mind now the memory of her home
where she had been a child, the big house among the land, the
peasants of the village.

She was sent to Yorkshire, to nurse an old rector in his
rectory by the sea. This was the first shake of the kaleidoscope
that brought in front of her eyes something she must see. It
hurt her brain, the open country and the moors. It hurt her and
hurt her. Yet it forced itself upon her as something living, it
roused some potency of her childhood in her, it had some
relation to her.

There was green and silver and blue in the air about her now.
And there was a strange insistence of light from the sea, to
which she must attend. Primroses glimmered around, many of them,
and she stooped to the disturbing influence near her feet, she
even picked one or two flowers, faintly remembering in the new
colour of life, what had been. All the day long, as she sat at
the upper window, the light came off the sea, constantly,
constantly, without refusal, till it seemed to bear her away,
and the noise of the sea created a drowsiness in her, a
relaxation like sleep. Her automatic consciousness gave way a
little, she stumbled sometimes, she had a poignant, momentary
vision of her living child, that hurt her unspeakably. Her soul
roused to attention.

Very strange was the constant glitter of the sea unsheathed
in heaven, very warm and sweet the graveyard, in a nook of the
hill catching the sunshine and holding it as one holds a bee
between the palms of the hands, when it is benumbed. Grey grass
and lichens and a little church, and snowdrops among coarse
grass, and a cupful of incredibly warm sunshine.

She was troubled in spirit. Hearing the rushing of the beck
away down under the trees, she was startled, and wondered what
it was. Walking down, she found the bluebells around her glowing
like a presence, among the trees.

Summer came, the moors were tangled with harebells like water
in the ruts of the roads, the heather came rosy under the skies,
setting the whole world awake. And she was uneasy. She went past
the gorse bushes shrinking from their presence, she stepped into
the heather as into a quickening bath that almost hurt. Her
fingers moved over the clasped fingers of the child, she heard
the anxious voice of the baby, as it tried to make her talk,
distraught.

And she shrank away again, back into her darkness, and for a
long while remained blotted safely away from living. But autumn
came with the faint red glimmer of robins singing, winter
darkened the moors, and almost savagely she turned again to
life, demanding her life back again, demanding that it should be
as it had been when she was a girl, on the land at home, under
the sky. Snow lay in great expanses, the telegraph posts strode
over the white earth, away under the gloom of the sky. And
savagely her desire rose in her again, demanding that this was
Poland, her youth, that all was her own again.

But there were no sledges nor bells, she did not see the
peasants coming out like new people, in their sheepskins and
their fresh, ruddy, bright faces, that seemed to become new and
vivid when the snow lit up the ground. It did not come to her,
the life of her youth, it did not come back. There was a little
agony of struggle, then a relapse into the darkness of the
convent, where Satan and the devils raged round the walls, and
Christ was white on the cross of victory.

She watched from the sick-room the snow whirl past, like
flocks of shadows in haste, flying on some final mission out to
a leaden inalterable sea, beyond the final whiteness of the
curving shore, and the snow-speckled blackness of the rocks half
submerged. But near at hand on the trees the snow was soft in
bloom. Only the voice of the dying vicar spoke grey and
querulous from behind.

By the time the snowdrops were out, however, he was dead. He
was dead. But with curious equanimity the returning woman
watched the snowdrops on the edge of the grass below, blown
white in the wind, but not to be blown away. She watched them
fluttering and bobbing, the white, shut flowers, anchored by a
thread to the grey-green grass, yet never blown away, not
drifting with the wind.

As she rose in the morning, the dawn was beating up white,
gusts of light blown like a thin snowstorm from the east, blown
stronger and fiercer, till the rose appeared, and the gold, and
the sea lit up below. She was impassive and indifferent. Yet she
was outside the enclosure of darkness.

There passed a space of shadow again, the familiarity of
dread-worship, during which she was moved, oblivious, to
Cossethay. There, at first, there was nothing—just grey
nothing. But then one morning there was a light from the yellow
jasmine caught her, and after that, morning and evening, the
persistent ringing of thrushes from the shrubbery, till her
heart, beaten upon, was forced to lift up its voice in rivalry
and answer. Little tunes came into her mind. She was full of
trouble almost like anguish. Resistant, she knew she was beaten,
and from fear of darkness turned to fear of light. She would
have hidden herself indoors, if she could. Above all, she craved
for the peace and heavy oblivion of her old state. She could not
bear to come to, to realize. The first pangs of this new
parturition were so acute, she knew she could not bear it. She
would rather remain out of life, than be torn, mutilated into
this birth, which she could not survive. She had not the
strength to come to life now, in England, so foreign, skies so
hostile. She knew she would die like an early, colourless,
scentless flower that the end of the winter puts forth
mercilessly. And she wanted to harbour her modicum of twinkling
life.

But a sunshiny day came full of the scent of a mezereon tree,
when bees were tumbling into the yellow crocuses, and she
forgot, she felt like somebody else, not herself, a new person,
quite glad. But she knew it was fragile, and she dreaded it. The
vicar put pea-flower into the crocuses, for his bees to roll in,
and she laughed. Then night came, with brilliant stars that she
knew of old, from her girlhood. And they flashed so bright, she
knew they were victors.

She could neither wake nor sleep. As if crushed between the
past and the future, like a flower that comes above-ground to
find a great stone lying above it, she was helpless.

The bewilderment and helplessness continued, she was
surrounded by great moving masses that must crush her. And there
was no escape. Save in the old obliviousness, the cold darkness
she strove to retain. But the vicar showed her eggs in the
thrush's nest near the back door. She saw herself the
mother-thrush upon the nest, and the way her wings were spread,
so eager down upon her secret. The tense, eager, nesting wings
moved her beyond endurance. She thought of them in the morning,
when she heard the thrush whistling as he got up, and she
thought, "Why didn't I die out there, why am I brought
here?"

She was aware of people who passed around her, not as
persons, but as looming presences. It was very difficult for her
to adjust herself. In Poland, the peasantry, the people, had
been cattle to her, they had been her cattle that she owned and
used. What were these people? Now she was coming awake, she was
lost.

But she had felt Brangwen go by almost as if he had brushed
her. She had tingled in body as she had gone on up the road.
After she had been with him in the Marsh kitchen, the voice of
her body had risen strong and insistent. Soon, she wanted him.
He was the man who had come nearest to her for her
awakening.

Always, however, between-whiles she lapsed into the old
unconsciousness, indifference and there was a will in her to
save herself from living any more. But she would wake in the
morning one day and feel her blood running, feel herself lying
open like a flower unsheathed in the sun, insistent and potent
with demand.

She got to know him better, and her instinct fixed on
him—just on him. Her impulse was strong against him,
because he was not of her own sort. But one blind instinct led
her, to take him, to leave him, and then to relinquish herself
to him. It would be safety. She felt the rooted safety of him,
and the life in him. Also he was young and very fresh. The blue,
steady livingness of his eyes she enjoyed like morning. He was
very young.

Then she lapsed again to stupor and indifference. This,
however, was bound to pass. The warmth flowed through her, she
felt herself opening, unfolding, asking, as a flower opens in
full request under the sun, as the beaks of tiny birds open
flat, to receive, to receive. And unfolded she turned to him,
straight to him. And he came, slowly, afraid, held back by
uncouth fear, and driven by a desire bigger than himself.

When she opened and turned to him, then all that had been and
all that was, was gone from her, she was as new as a flower that
unsheathes itself and stands always ready, waiting, receptive.
He could not understand this. He forced himself, through lack of
understanding, to the adherence to the line of honourable
courtship and sanctioned, licensed marriage. Therefore, after he
had gone to the vicarage and asked for her, she remained for
some days held in this one spell, open, receptive to him, before
him. He was roused to chaos. He spoke to the vicar and gave in
the banns. Then he stood to wait.

She remained attentive and instinctively expectant before
him, unfolded, ready to receive him. He could not act, because
of self-fear and because of his conception of honour towards
her. So he remained in a state of chaos.

And after a few days, gradually she closed again, away from
him, was sheathed over, impervious to him, oblivious. Then a
black, bottomless despair became real to him, he knew what he
had lost. He felt he had lost it for good, he knew what it was
to have been in communication with her, and to be cast off
again. In misery, his heart like a heavy stone, he went about
unliving.

Till gradually he became desperate, lost his understanding,
was plunged in a revolt that knew no bounds. Inarticulate, he
moved with her at the Marsh in violent, gloomy, wordless
passion, almost in hatred of her. Till gradually she became
aware of him, aware of herself with regard to him, her blood
stirred to life, she began to open towards him, to flow towards
him again. He waited till the spell was between them again, till
they were together within one rushing, hastening flame. And then
again he was bewildered, he was tied up as with cords, and could
not move to her. So she came to him, and unfastened the breast
of his waistcoat and his shirt, and put her hand on him, needing
to know him. For it was cruel to her, to be opened and offered
to him, yet not to know what he was, not even that he was there.
She gave herself to the hour, but he could not, and he bungled
in taking her.

So that he lived in suspense, as if only half his faculties
worked, until the wedding. She did not understand. But the
vagueness came over her again, and the days lapsed by. He could
not get definitely into touch with her. For the time being, she
let him go again.

He suffered very much from the thought of actual marriage,
the intimacy and nakedness of marriage. He knew her so little.
They were so foreign to each other, they were such strangers.
And they could not talk to each other. When she talked, of
Poland or of what had been, it was all so foreign, she scarcely
communicated anything to him. And when he looked at her, an
over-much reverence and fear of the unknown changed the nature
of his desire into a sort of worship, holding her aloof from his
physical desire, self-thwarting.

She did not know this, she did not understand. They had
looked at each other, and had accepted each other. It was so,
then there was nothing to balk at, it was complete between
them.

At the wedding, his face was stiff and expressionless. He
wanted to drink, to get rid of his forethought and afterthought,
to set the moment free. But he could not. The suspense only
tightened at his heart. The jesting and joviality and jolly,
broad insinuation of the guests only coiled him more. He could
not hear. That which was impending obsessed him, he could not
get free.

She sat quiet, with a strange, still smile. She was not
afraid. Having accepted him, she wanted to take him, she
belonged altogether to the hour, now. No future, no past, only
this, her hour. She did not even notice him, as she sat beside
him at the head of the table. He was very near, their coming
together was close at hand. What more!

As the time came for all the guests to go, her dark face was
softly lighted, the bend of her head was proud, her grey eyes
clear and dilated, so that the men could not look at her, and
the women were elated by her, they served her. Very wonderful
she was, as she bade farewell, her ugly wide mouth smiling with
pride and recognition, her voice speaking softly and richly in
the foreign accent, her dilated eyes ignoring one and all the
departing guests. Her manner was gracious and fascinating, but
she ignored the being of him or her to whom she gave her
hand.

And Brangwen stood beside her, giving his hearty handshake to
his friends, receiving their regard gratefully, glad of their
attention. His heart was tormented within him, he did not try to
smile. The time of his trial and his admittance, his Gethsemane
and his Triumphal Entry in one, had come now.

Behind her, there was so much unknown to him. When he
approached her, he came to such a terrible painful unknown. How
could he embrace it and fathom it? How could he close his arms
round all this darkness and hold it to his breast and give
himself to it? What might not happen to him? If he stretched and
strained for ever he would never be able to grasp it all, and to
yield himself naked out of his own hands into the unknown power!
How could a man be strong enough to take her, put his arms round
her and have her, and be sure he could conquer this awful
unknown next his heart? What was it then that she was, to which
he must also deliver himself up, and which at the same time he
must embrace, contain?

He was to be her husband. It was established so. And he
wanted it more than he wanted life, or anything. She stood
beside him in her silk dress, looking at him strangely, so that
a certain terror, horror took possession of him, because she was
strange and impending and he had no choice. He could not bear to
meet her look from under her strange, thick brows.

"Is it late?" she said.

He looked at his watch.

"No—half-past eleven," he said. And he made an excuse
to go into the kitchen, leaving her standing in the room among
the disorder and the drinking-glasses.

Tilly was seated beside the fire in the kitchen, her head in
her hands. She started up when he entered.

"Why haven't you gone to bed?" he said.

"I thought I'd better stop an' lock up an' do," she said. Her
agitation quietened him. He gave her some little order, then
returned, steadied now, almost ashamed, to his wife. She stood a
moment watching him, as he moved with averted face. Then she
said:

"You will be good to me, won't you?"

She was small and girlish and terrible, with a queer, wide
look in her eyes. His heart leaped in him, in anguish of love
and desire, he went blindly to her and took her in his arms.

"I want to," he said as he drew her closer and closer in. She
was soothed by the stress of his embrace, and remained quite
still, relaxed against him, mingling in to him. And he let
himself go from past and future, was reduced to the moment with
her. In which he took her and was with her and there was nothing
beyond, they were together in an elemental embrace beyond their
superficial foreignness. But in the morning he was uneasy again.
She was still foreign and unknown to him. Only, within the fear
was pride, belief in himself as mate for her. And she,
everything forgotten in her new hour of coming to life, radiated
vigour and joy, so that he quivered to touch her.

It made a great difference to him, marriage. Things became so
remote and of so little significance, as he knew the powerful
source of his life, his eyes opened on a new universe, and he
wondered in thinking of his triviality before. A new, calm
relationship showed to him in the things he saw, in the cattle
he used, the young wheat as it eddied in a wind.

And each time he returned home, he went steadily,
expectantly, like a man who goes to a profound, unknown
satisfaction. At dinner-time, he appeared in the doorway,
hanging back a moment from entering, to see if she was there. He
saw her setting the plates on the white-scrubbed table. Her arms
were slim, she had a slim body and full skirts, she had a dark,
shapely head with close-banded hair. Somehow it was her head, so
shapely and poignant, that revealed her his woman to him. As she
moved about clothed closely, full-skirted and wearing her little
silk apron, her dark hair smoothly parted, her head revealed
itself to him in all its subtle, intrinsic beauty, and he knew
she was his woman, he knew her essence, that it was his to
possess. And he seemed to live thus in contact with her, in
contact with the unknown, the unaccountable and
incalculable.

They did not take much notice of each other, consciously.

"I'm betimes," he said.

"Yes," she answered.

He turned to the dogs, or to the child if she was there. The
little Anna played about the farm, flitting constantly in to
call something to her mother, to fling her arms round her
mother's skirts, to be noticed, perhaps caressed, then,
forgetting, to slip out again.

Then Brangwen, talking to the child, or to the dog between
his knees, would be aware of his wife, as, in her tight, dark
bodice and her lace fichu, she was reaching up to the corner
cupboard. He realized with a sharp pang that she belonged to
him, and he to her. He realized that he lived by her. Did he own
her? Was she here for ever? Or might she go away? She was not
really his, it was not a real marriage, this marriage between
them. She might go away. He did not feel like a master, husband,
father of her children. She belonged elsewhere. Any moment, she
might be gone. And he was ever drawn to her, drawn after her,
with ever-raging, ever-unsatisfied desire. He must always turn
home, wherever his steps were taking him, always to her, and he
could never quite reach her, he could never quite be satisfied,
never be at peace, because she might go away.

At evening, he was glad. Then, when he had finished in the
yard, and come in and washed himself, when the child was put to
bed, he could sit on the other side of the fire with his beer on
the hob and his long white pipe in his fingers, conscious of her
there opposite him, as she worked at her embroidery, or as she
talked to him, and he was safe with her now, till morning. She
was curiously self-sufficient and did not say very much.
Occasionally she lifted her head, her grey eyes shining with a
strange light, that had nothing to do with him or with this
place, and would tell him about herself. She seemed to be back
again in the past, chiefly in her childhood or her girlhood,
with her father. She very rarely talked of her first husband.
But sometimes, all shining-eyed, she was back at her own home,
telling him about the riotous times, the trip to Paris with her
father, tales of the mad acts of the peasants when a burst of
religious, self-hurting fervour had passed over the country.

She would lift her head and say:

"When they brought the railway across the country, they made
afterwards smaller railways, of shorter width, to come down to
our town-a hundred miles. When I was a girl, Gisla, my German
gouvernante, was very shocked and she would not tell me. But I
heard the servants talking. I remember, it was Pierre, the
coachman. And my father, and some of his friends, landowners,
they had taken a wagon, a whole railway wagon—that you
travel in——"

"A railway-carriage," said Brangwen.

She laughed to herself.

"I know it was a great scandal: yes—a whole wagon, and
they had girls, you know, filles, naked, all the
wagon-full, and so they came down to our village. They came
through villages of the Jews, and it was a great scandal. Can
you imagine? All the countryside! And my mother, she did not
like it. Gisla said to me, 'Madame, she must not know that you
have heard such things.'

"My mother, she used to cry, and she wished to beat my
father, plainly beat him. He would say, when she cried because
he sold the forest, the wood, to jingle money in his pocket, and
go to Warsaw or Paris or Kiev, when she said he must take back
his word, he must not sell the forest, he would stand and say,
'I know, I know, I have heard it all, I have heard it all
before. Tell me some new thing. I know, I know, I know.' Oh, but
can you understand, I loved him when he stood there under the
door, saying only, 'I know, I know, I know it all already.' She
could not change him, no, not if she killed herself for it. And
she could change everybody else, but him, she could not change
him——"

Brangwen could not understand. He had pictures of a
cattle-truck full of naked girls riding from nowhere to nowhere,
of Lydia laughing because her father made great debts and said,
"I know, I know"; of Jews running down the street shouting in
Yiddish, "Don't do it, don't do it," and being cut down by
demented peasants—she called them "cattle"—whilst
she looked on interested and even amused; of tutors and
governesses and Paris and a convent. It was too much for him.
And there she sat, telling the tales to the open space, not to
him, arrogating a curious superiority to him, a distance between
them, something strange and foreign and outside his life,
talking, rattling, without rhyme or reason, laughing when he was
shocked or astounded, condemning nothing, confounding his mind
and making the whole world a chaos, without order or stability
of any kind. Then, when they went to bed, he knew that he had
nothing to do with her. She was back in her childhood, he was a
peasant, a serf, a servant, a lover, a paramour, a shadow, a
nothing. He lay still in amazement, staring at the room he knew
so well, and wondering whether it was really there, the window,
the chest of drawers, or whether it was merely a figment in the
atmosphere. And gradually he grew into a raging fury against
her. But because he was so much amazed, and there was as yet
such a distance between them, and she was such an amazing thing
to him, with all wonder opening out behind her, he made no
retaliation on her. Only he lay still and wide-eyed with rage,
inarticulate, not understanding, but solid with hostility.

And he remained wrathful and distinct from her, unchanged
outwardly to her, but underneath a solid power of antagonism to
her. Of which she became gradually aware. And it irritated her
to be made aware of him as a separate power. She lapsed into a
sort of sombre exclusion, a curious communion with mysterious
powers, a sort of mystic, dark state which drove him and the
child nearly mad. He walked about for days stiffened with
resistance to her, stiff with a will to destroy her as she was.
Then suddenly, out of nowhere, there was connection between them
again. It came on him as he was working in the fields. The
tension, the bond, burst, and the passionate flood broke forward
into a tremendous, magnificent rush, so that he felt he could
snap off the trees as he passed, and create the world
afresh.

And when he arrived home, there was no sign between them. He
waited and waited till she came. And as he waited, his limbs
seemed strong and splendid to him, his hands seemed like
passionate servants to him, goodly, he felt a stupendous power
in himself, of life, and of urgent, strong blood.

She was sure to come at last, and touch him. Then he burst
into flame for her, and lost himself. They looked at each other,
a deep laugh at the bottom of their eyes, and he went to take of
her again, wholesale, mad to revel in the inexhaustible wealth
of her, to bury himself in the depths of her in an inexhaustible
exploration, she all the while revelling in that he revelled in
her, tossed all her secrets aside and plunged to that which was
secret to her as well, whilst she quivered with fear and the
last anguish of delight.

What did it matter who they were, whether they knew each
other or not?

The hour passed away again, there was severance between them,
and rage and misery and bereavement for her, and deposition and
toiling at the mill with slaves for him. But no matter. They had
had their hour, and should it chime again, they were ready for
it, ready to renew the game at the point where it was left off,
on the edge of the outer darkness, when the secrets within the
woman are game for the man, hunted doggedly, when the secrets of
the woman are the man's adventure, and they both give themselves
to the adventure.

She was with child, and there was again the silence and
distance between them. She did not want him nor his secrets nor
his game, he was deposed, he was cast out. He seethed with fury
at the small, ugly-mouthed woman who had nothing to do with him.
Sometimes his anger broke on her, but she did not cry. She
turned on him like a tiger, and there was battle.

He had to learn to contain himself again, and he hated it. He
hated her that she was not there for him. And he took himself
off, anywhere.

But an instinct of gratitude and a knowledge that she would
receive him back again, that later on she would be there for him
again, prevented his straying very far. He cautiously did not go
too far. He knew she might lapse into ignorance of him, lapse
away from him, farther, farther, farther, till she was lost to
him. He had sense enough, premonition enough in himself, to be
aware of this and to measure himself accordingly. For he did not
want to lose her: he did not want her to lapse away.

Cold, he called her, selfish, only caring about herself, a
foreigner with a bad nature, caring really about nothing, having
no proper feelings at the bottom of her, and no proper niceness.
He raged, and piled up accusations that had some measure of
truth in them all. But a certain grace in him forbade him from
going too far. He knew, and he quivered with rage and hatred,
that she was all these vile things, that she was everything vile
and detestable. But he had grace at the bottom of him, which
told him that, above all things, he did not want to lose her, he
was not going to lose her.

So he kept some consideration for her, he preserved some
relationship. He went out more often, to the "Red Lion" again,
to escape the madness of sitting next to her when she did not
belong to him, when she was as absent as any woman in
indifference could be. He could not stay at home. So he went to
the "Red Lion". And sometimes he got drunk. But he preserved his
measure, some things between them he never forfeited.

A tormented look came into his eyes, as if something were
always dogging him. He glanced sharp and quick, he could not
bear to sit still doing nothing. He had to go out, to find
company, to give himself away there. For he had no other outlet,
he could not work to give himself out, he had not the
knowledge.

As the months of her pregnancy went on, she left him more and
more alone, she was more and more unaware of him, his existence
was annulled. And he felt bound down, bound, unable to stir,
beginning to go mad, ready to rave. For she was quiet and
polite, as if he did not exist, as one is quiet and polite to a
servant.

Nevertheless she was great with his child, it was his turn to
submit. She sat opposite him, sewing, her foreign face
inscrutable and indifferent. He felt he wanted to break her into
acknowledgment of him, into awareness of him. It was
insufferable that she had so obliterated him. He would smash her
into regarding him. He had a raging agony of desire to do
so.

But something bigger in him withheld him, kept him
motionless. So he went out of the house for relief. Or he turned
to the little girl for her sympathy and her love, he appealed
with all his power to the small Anna. So soon they were like
lovers, father and child.

For he was afraid of his wife. As she sat there with bent
head, silent, working or reading, but so unutterably silent that
his heart seemed under the millstone of it, she became herself
like the upper millstone lying on him, crushing him, as
sometimes a heavy sky lies on the earth.

Yet he knew he could not tear her away from the heavy
obscurity into which she was merged. He must not try to tear her
into recognition of himself, and agreement with himself. It were
disastrous, impious. So, let him rage as he might, he must
withhold himself. But his wrists trembled and seemed mad, seemed
as if they would burst.

When, in November, the leaves came beating against the window
shutters, with a lashing sound, he started, and his eyes
flickered with flame. The dog looked up at him, he sunk his head
to the fire. But his wife was startled. He was aware of her
listening.

"They blow up with a rattle," he said.

"What?" she asked.

"The leaves."

She sank away again. The strange leaves beating in the wind
on the wood had come nearer than she. The tension in the room
was overpowering, it was difficult for him to move his head. He
sat with every nerve, every vein, every fibre of muscle in his
body stretched on a tension. He felt like a broken arch thrust
sickeningly out from support. For her response was gone, he
thrust at nothing. And he remained himself, he saved himself
from crashing down into nothingness, from being squandered into
fragments, by sheer tension, sheer backward resistance.

During the last months of her pregnancy, he went about in a
surcharged, imminent state that did not exhaust itself. She was
also depressed, and sometimes she cried. It needed so much life
to begin afresh, after she had lost so lavishly. Sometimes she
cried. Then he stood stiff, feeling his heart would burst. For
she did not want him, she did not want even to be made aware of
him. By the very puckering of her face he knew that he must
stand back, leave her intact, alone. For it was the old grief
come back in her, the old loss, the pain of the old life, the
dead husband, the dead children. This was sacred to her, and he
must not violate her with his comfort. For what she wanted she
would come to him. He stood aloof with turgid heart.

He had to see her tears come, fall over her scarcely moving
face, that only puckered sometimes, down on to her breast, that
was so still, scarcely moving. And there was no noise, save now
and again, when, with a strange, somnambulant movement, she took
her handkerchief and wiped her face and blew her nose, and went
on with the noiseless weeping. He knew that any offer of comfort
from himself would be worse than useless, hateful to her,
jangling her. She must cry. But it drove him insane. His heart
was scalded, his brain hurt in his head, he went away, out of
the house.

His great and chiefest source of solace was the child. She
had been at first aloof from him, reserved. However friendly she
might seem one day, the next she would have lapsed to her
original disregard of him, cold, detached, at her distance.

The first morning after his marriage he had discovered it
would not be so easy with the child. At the break of dawn he had
started awake hearing a small voice outside the door saying
plaintively:

"Mother!"

He rose and opened the door. She stood on the threshold in
her night-dress, as she had climbed out of bed, black eyes
staring round and hostile, her fair hair sticking out in a wild
fleece. The man and child confronted each other.

"I want my mother," she said, jealously accenting the
"my".

"Come on then," he said gently.

"Where's my mother?"

"She's here—come on."

The child's eyes, staring at the man with ruffled hair and
beard, did not change. The mother's voice called softly. The
little bare feet entered the room with trepidation.

"Mother!"

"Come, my dear."

The small bare feet approached swiftly.

"I wondered where you were," came the plaintive voice. The
mother stretched out her arms. The child stood beside the high
bed. Brangwen lightly lifted the tiny girl, with an
"up-a-daisy", then took his own place in the bed again.

"Mother!" cried the child, as in anguish.

"What, my pet?"

Anna wriggled close into her mother's arms, clinging tight,
hiding from the fact of the man. Brangwen lay still, and waited.
There was a long silence.

Then suddenly, Anna looked round, as if she thought he would
be gone. She saw the face of the man lying upturned to the
ceiling. Her black eyes stared antagonistic from her exquisite
face, her arms clung tightly to her mother, afraid. He did not
move for some time, not knowing what to say. His face was smooth
and soft-skinned with love, his eyes full of soft light. He
looked at her, scarcely moving his head, his eyes smiling.

"Have you just wakened up?" he said.

"Go away," she retorted, with a little darting forward of the
head, something like a viper.

"Nay," he answered, "I'm not going. You can go."

"Go away," came the sharp little command.

"There's room for you," he said.

"You can't send your father from his own bed, my little
bird," said her mother, pleasantly.

The child glowered at him, miserable in her impotence.

"There's room for you as well," he said. "It's a big bed
enough."

She glowered without answering, then turned and clung to her
mother. She would not allow it.

During the day she asked her mother several times:

"When are we going home, mother?"

"We are at home, darling, we live here now. This is our
house, we live here with your father."

The child was forced to accept it. But she remained against
the man. As night came on, she asked:

"Where are you going to sleep, mother?"

"I sleep with the father now."

And when Brangwen came in, the child asked fiercely:

"Why do you sleep with my mother? My mother
sleeps with me," her voice quivering.

"You come as well, an' sleep with both of us," he coaxed.

"Mother!" she cried, turning, appealing against him.

"But I must have a husband, darling. All women must have a
husband."

"And you like to have a father with your mother, don't you?"
said Brangwen.

Anna glowered at him. She seemed to cogitate.

"No," she cried fiercely at length, "no, I don't
want." And slowly her face puckered, she sobbed bitterly.
He stood and watched her, sorry. But there could be no altering
it.

Which, when she knew, she became quiet. He was easy with her,
talking to her, taking her to see the live creatures, bringing
her the first chickens in his cap, taking her to gather the
eggs, letting her throw crusts to the horse. She would easily
accompany him, and take all he had to give, but she remained
neutral still.

She was curiously, incomprehensibly jealous of her mother,
always anxiously concerned about her. If Brangwen drove with his
wife to Nottingham, Anna ran about happily enough, or
unconcerned, for a long time. Then, as afternoon came on, there
was only one cry—"I want my mother, I want my
mother——" and a bitter, pathetic sobbing that soon
had the soft-hearted Tilly sobbing too. The child's anguish was
that her mother was gone, gone.

Yet as a rule, Anna seemed cold, resenting her mother,
critical of her. It was:

"I don't like you to do that, mother," or, "I don't like you
to say that." She was a sore problem to Brangwen and to all the
people at the Marsh. As a rule, however, she was active, lightly
flitting about the farmyard, only appearing now and again to
assure herself of her mother. Happy she never seemed, but quick,
sharp, absorbed, full of imagination and changeability. Tilly
said she was bewitched. But it did not matter so long as she did
not cry. There was something heart-rending about Anna's crying,
her childish anguish seemed so utter and so timeless, as if it
were a thing of all the ages.

She made playmates of the creatures of the farmyard, talking
to them, telling them the stories she had from her mother,
counselling them and correcting them. Brangwen found her at the
gate leading to the paddock and to the duckpond. She was peering
through the bars and shouting to the stately white geese, that
stood in a curving line:

"You're not to call at people when they want to come. You
must not do it."

The heavy, balanced birds looked at the fierce little face
and the fleece of keen hair thrust between the bars, and they
raised their heads and swayed off, producing the long,
can-canking, protesting noise of geese, rocking their ship-like,
beautiful white bodies in a line beyond the gate.

"You're naughty, you're naughty," cried Anna, tears of dismay
and vexation in her eyes. And she stamped her slipper.

"Why, what are they doing?" said Brangwen.

"They won't let me come in," she said, turning her flushed
little face to him.

"Yi, they will. You can go in if you want to," and he pushed
open the gate for her.

She stood irresolute, looking at the group of bluey-white
geese standing monumental under the grey, cold day.

"Go on," he said.

She marched valiantly a few steps in. Her little body started
convulsively at the sudden, derisive can-cank-ank of the geese.
A blankness spread over her. The geese trailed away with
uplifted heads under the low grey sky.

"They don't know you," said Brangwen. "You should tell 'em
what your name is."

"They're naughty to shout at me," she flashed.

"They think you don't live here," he said.

Later he found her at the gate calling shrilly and
imperiously:

"My name is Anna, Anna Lensky, and I live here, because Mr.
Brangwen's my father now. He is, yes he is. And I
live here."

This pleased Brangwen very much. And gradually, without
knowing it herself, she clung to him, in her lost, childish,
desolate moments, when it was good to creep up to something big
and warm, and bury her little self in his big, unlimited being.
Instinctively he was careful of her, careful to recognize her
and to give himself to her disposal.

She was difficult of her affections. For Tilly, she had a
childish, essential contempt, almost dislike, because the poor
woman was such a servant. The child would not let the
serving-woman attend to her, do intimate things for her, not for
a long time. She treated her as one of an inferior race.
Brangwen did not like it.

"Why aren't you fond of Tilly?" he asked.

"Because—because—because she looks at me with her
eyes bent."

Then gradually she accepted Tilly as belonging to the
household, never as a person.

For the first weeks, the black eyes of the child were for
ever on the watch. Brangwen, good-humoured but impatient,
spoiled by Tilly, was an easy blusterer. If for a few minutes he
upset the household with his noisy impatience, he found at the
end the child glowering at him with intense black eyes, and she
was sure to dart forward her little head, like a serpent, with
her biting:

"Go away."

"I'm not going away," he shouted, irritated at last.
"Go yourself—hustle—stir thysen—hop." And he
pointed to the door. The child backed away from him, pale with
fear. Then she gathered up courage, seeing him become
patient.

"We don't live with you," she said, thrusting forward
her little head at him. "You—you're—you're a
bomakle."

"A what?" he shouted.

Her voice wavered—but it came.

"A bomakle."

"Ay, an' you're a comakle."

She meditated. Then she hissed forwards her head.

"I'm not."

"Not what?"

"A comakle."

"No more am I a bomakle."

He was really cross.

Other times she would say:

"My mother doesn't live here."

"Oh, ay?"

"I want her to go away."

"Then want's your portion," he replied laconically.

So they drew nearer together. He would take her with him when
he went out in the trap. The horse ready at the gate, he came
noisily into the house, which seemed quiet and peaceful till he
appeared to set everything awake.

"Now then, Topsy, pop into thy bonnet."

The child drew herself up, resenting the indignity of the
address.

"I can't fasten my bonnet myself," she said haughtily.

"Not man enough yet," he said, tying the ribbons under her
chin with clumsy fingers.

She held up her face to him. Her little bright-red lips moved
as he fumbled under her chin.

"You talk—nonsents," she said, re-echoing one of his
phrases.

"That face shouts for th' pump," he said, and taking
out a big red handkerchief, that smelled of strong tobacco,
began wiping round her mouth.

"Is Kitty waiting for me?" she asked.

"Ay," he said. "Let's finish wiping your face—it'll
pass wi' a cat-lick."

She submitted prettily. Then, when he let her go, she began
to skip, with a curious flicking up of one leg behind her.

"Now my young buck-rabbit," he said. "Slippy!"

She came and was shaken into her coat, and the two set off.
She sat very close beside him in the gig, tucked tightly,
feeling his big body sway, against her, very splendid. She loved
the rocking of the gig, when his big, live body swayed upon her,
against her. She laughed, a poignant little shrill laugh, and
her black eyes glowed.

She was curiously hard, and then passionately tenderhearted.
Her mother was ill, the child stole about on tip-toe in the
bedroom for hours, being nurse, and doing the thing thoughtfully
and diligently. Another day, her mother was unhappy. Anna would
stand with her legs apart, glowering, balancing on the sides of
her slippers. She laughed when the goslings wriggled in Tilly's
hand, as the pellets of food were rammed down their throats with
a skewer, she laughed nervously. She was hard and imperious with
the animals, squandering no love, running about amongst them
like a cruel mistress.

Summer came, and hay-harvest, Anna was a brown elfish mite
dancing about. Tilly always marvelled over her, more than she
loved her.

But always in the child was some anxious connection with the
mother. So long as Mrs. Brangwen was all right, the little girl
played about and took very little notice of her. But
corn-harvest went by, the autumn drew on, and the mother, the
later months of her pregnancy beginning, was strange and
detached, Brangwen began to knit his brows, the old, unhealthy
uneasiness, the unskinned susceptibility came on the child
again. If she went to the fields with her father, then, instead
of playing about carelessly, it was:

"I want to go home."

"Home, why tha's nobbut this minute come."

"I want to go home."

"What for? What ails thee?"

"I want my mother."

"Thy mother! Thy mother none wants thee."

"I want to go home."

There would be tears in a moment.

"Can ter find t'road, then?"

And he watched her scudding, silent and intent, along the
hedge-bottom, at a steady, anxious pace, till she turned and was
gone through the gateway. Then he saw her two fields off, still
pressing forward, small and urgent. His face was clouded as he
turned to plough up the stubble.

The year drew on, in the hedges the berries shone red and
twinkling above bare twigs, robins were seen, great droves of
birds dashed like spray from the fallow, rooks appeared, black
and flapping down to earth, the ground was cold as he pulled the
turnips, the roads were churned deep in mud. Then the turnips
were pitted and work was slack.

Inside the house it was dark, and quiet. The child flitted
uneasily round, and now and again came her plaintive, startled
cry:

"Mother!"

Mrs. Brangwen was heavy and unresponsive, tired, lapsed back.
Brangwen went on working out of doors.

At evening, when he came in to milk, the child would run
behind him. Then, in the cosy cow-sheds, with the doors shut and
the air looking warm by the light of the hanging lantern, above
the branching horns of the cows, she would stand watching his
hands squeezing rhythmically the teats of the placid beast,
watch the froth and the leaping squirt of milk, watch his hand
sometimes rubbing slowly, understandingly, upon a hanging udder.
So they kept each other company, but at a distance, rarely
speaking.

The darkest days of the year came on, the child was fretful,
sighing as if some oppression were on her, running hither and
thither without relief. And Brangwen went about at his work,
heavy, his heart heavy as the sodden earth.

The winter nights fell early, the lamp was lighted before
tea-time, the shutters were closed, they were all shut into the
room with the tension and stress. Mrs. Brangwen went early to
bed, Anna playing on the floor beside her. Brangwen sat in the
emptiness of the downstairs room, smoking, scarcely conscious
even of his own misery. And very often he went out to escape
it.

Christmas passed, the wet, drenched, cold days of January
recurred monotonously, with now and then a brilliance of blue
flashing in, when Brangwen went out into a morning like crystal,
when every sound rang again, and the birds were many and sudden
and brusque in the hedges. Then an elation came over him in
spite of everything, whether his wife were strange or sad, or
whether he craved for her to be with him, it did not matter, the
air rang with clear noises, the sky was like crystal, like a
bell, and the earth was hard. Then he worked and was happy, his
eyes shining, his cheeks flushed. And the zest of life was
strong in him.

The birds pecked busily round him, the horses were fresh and
ready, the bare branches of the trees flung themselves up like a
man yawning, taut with energy, the twigs radiated off into the
clear light. He was alive and full of zest for it all. And if
his wife were heavy, separated from him, extinguished, then, let
her be, let him remain himself. Things would be as they would
be. Meanwhile he heard the ringing crow of a cockerel in the
distance, he saw the pale shell of the moon effaced on a blue
sky.

So he shouted to the horses, and was happy. If, driving into
Ilkeston, a fresh young woman were going in to do her shopping,
he hailed her, and reined in his horse, and picked her up. Then
he was glad to have her near him, his eyes shone, his voice,
laughing, teasing in a warm fashion, made the poise of her head
more beautiful, her blood ran quicker. They were both
stimulated, the morning was fine.

What did it matter that, at the bottom of his heart, was care
and pain? It was at the bottom, let it stop at the bottom. His
wife, her suffering, her coming pain—well, it must be so.
She suffered, but he was out of doors, full in life, and it
would be ridiculous, indecent, to pull a long face and to insist
on being miserable. He was happy, this morning, driving to town,
with the hoofs of the horse spanking the hard earth. Well he was
happy, if half the world were weeping at the funeral of the
other half. And it was a jolly girl sitting beside him. And
Woman was immortal, whatever happened, whoever turned towards
death. Let the misery come when it could not be resisted.

The evening arrived later very beautiful, with a rosy flush
hovering above the sunset, and passing away into violet and
lavender, with turquoise green north and south in the sky, and
in the east, a great, yellow moon hanging heavy and radiant. It
was magnificent to walk between the sunset and the moon, on a
road where little holly trees thrust black into the rose and
lavender, and starlings flickered in droves across the light.
But what was the end of the journey? The pain came right enough,
later on, when his heart and his feet were heavy, his brain
dead, his life stopped.

One afternoon, the pains began, Mrs. Brangwen was put to bed,
the midwife came. Night fell, the shutters were closed, Brangwen
came in to tea, to the loaf and the pewter teapot, the child,
silent and quivering, playing with glass beads, the house,
empty, it seemed, or exposed to the winter night, as if it had
no walls.

Sometimes there sounded, long and remote in the house,
vibrating through everything, the moaning cry of a woman in
labour. Brangwen, sitting downstairs, was divided. His lower,
deeper self was with her, bound to her, suffering. But the big
shell of his body remembered the sound of owls that used to fly
round the farmstead when he was a boy. He was back in his youth,
a boy, haunted by the sound of the owls, waking up his brother
to speak to him. And his mind drifted away to the birds, their
solemn, dignified faces, their flight so soft and broad-winged.
And then to the birds his brother had shot, fluffy,
dust-coloured, dead heaps of softness with faces absurdly
asleep. It was a queer thing, a dead owl.

He lifted his cup to his lips, he watched the child with the
beads. But his mind was occupied with owls, and the atmosphere
of his boyhood, with his brothers and sisters. Elsewhere,
fundamental, he was with his wife in labour, the child was being
brought forth out of their one flesh. He and she, one flesh, out
of which life must be put forth. The rent was not in his body,
but it was of his body. On her the blows fell, but the quiver
ran through to him, to his last fibre. She must be torn asunder
for life to come forth, yet still they were one flesh, and
still, from further back, the life came out of him to her, and
still he was the unbroken that has the broken rock in its arms,
their flesh was one rock from which the life gushed, out of her
who was smitten and rent, from him who quivered and yielded.

He went upstairs to her. As he came to the bedside she spoke
to him in Polish.

"Is it very bad?" he asked.

She looked at him, and oh, the weariness to her, of the
effort to understand another language, the weariness of hearing
him, attending to him, making out who he was, as he stood there
fair-bearded and alien, looking at her. She knew something of
him, of his eyes. But she could not grasp him. She closed her
eyes.

He turned away, white to the gills.

"It's not so very bad," said the midwife.

He knew he was a strain on his wife. He went downstairs.

The child glanced up at him, frightened.

"I want my mother," she quavered.

"Ay, but she's badly," he said mildly, unheeding.

She looked at him with lost, frightened eyes.

"Has she got a headache?"

"No—she's going to have a baby."

The child looked round. He was unaware of her. She was alone
again in terror.

"I want my mother," came the cry of panic.

"Let Tilly undress you," he said. "You're tired."

There was another silence. Again came the cry of labour.

"I want my mother," rang automatically from the wincing,
panic-stricken child, that felt cut off and lost in a horror of
desolation.

Tilly came forward, her heart wrung.

"Come an' let me undress her then, pet-lamb," she crooned.
"You s'll have your mother in th' mornin', don't you fret, my
duckie; never mind, angel."

But Anna stood upon the sofa, her back to the wall.

"I want my mother," she cried, her little face quivering, and
the great tears of childish, utter anguish falling.

"She's poorly, my lamb, she's poorly to-night, but she'll be
better by mornin'. Oh, don't cry, don't cry, love, she doesn't
want you to cry, precious little heart, no, she doesn't."

Tilly took gently hold of the child's skirts. Anna snatched
back her dress, and cried, in a little hysteria:

"No, you're not to undress me—I want my
mother,"—and her child's face was running with grief and
tears, her body shaken.

"Oh, but let Tilly undress you. Let Tilly undress you, who
loves you, don't be wilful to-night. Mother's poorly, she
doesn't want you to cry."

The child sobbed distractedly, she could not hear.

"I want—my—mother," she wept.

"When you're undressed, you s'll go up to see your
mother—when you're undressed, pet, when you've let Tilly
undress you, when you're a little jewel in your nightie, love.
Oh, don't you cry, don't you—"

Brangwen sat stiff in his chair. He felt his brain going
tighter. He crossed over the room, aware only of the maddening
sobbing.

"Don't make a noise," he said.

And a new fear shook the child from the sound of his voice.
She cried mechanically, her eyes looking watchful through her
tears, in terror, alert to what might happen.

"I want—my—mother," quavered the sobbing, blind
voice.

A shiver of irritation went over the man's limbs. It was the
utter, persistent unreason, the maddening blindness of the voice
and the crying.

"You must come and be undressed," he said, in a quiet voice
that was thin with anger.

And he reached his hand and grasped her. He felt her body
catch in a convulsive sob. But he too was blind, and intent,
irritated into mechanical action. He began to unfasten her
little apron. She would have shrunk from him, but could not. So
her small body remained in his grasp, while he fumbled at the
little buttons and tapes, unthinking, intent, unaware of
anything but the irritation of her. Her body was held taut and
resistant, he pushed off the little dress and the petticoats,
revealing the white arms. She kept stiff, overpowered, violated,
he went on with his task. And all the while she sobbed,
choking:

"I want my mother."

He was unheedingly silent, his face stiff. The child was now
incapable of understanding, she had become a little, mechanical
thing of fixed will. She wept, her body convulsed, her voice
repeating the same cry.

"Eh, dear o' me!" cried Tilly, becoming distracted herself.
Brangwen, slow, clumsy, blind, intent, got off all the little
garments, and stood the child naked in its shift upon the
sofa.

"Where's her nightie?" he asked.

Tilly brought it, and he put it on her. Anna did not move her
limbs to his desire. He had to push them into place. She stood,
with fixed, blind will, resistant, a small, convulsed,
unchangeable thing weeping ever and repeating the same phrase.
He lifted one foot after the other, pulled off slippers and
socks. She was ready.

"Do you want a drink?" he asked.

She did not change. Unheeding, uncaring, she stood on the
sofa, standing back, alone, her hands shut and half lifted, her
face, all tears, raised and blind. And through the sobbing and
choking came the broken:

"I—want—my—mother."

"Do you want a drink?" he said again.

There was no answer. He lifted the stiff, denying body
between his hands. Its stiff blindness made a flash of rage go
through him. He would like to break it.

He set the child on his knee, and sat again in his chair
beside the fire, the wet, sobbing, inarticulate noise going on
near his ear, the child sitting stiff, not yielding to him or
anything, not aware.

A new degree of anger came over him. What did it all matter?
What did it matter if the mother talked Polish and cried in
labour, if this child were stiff with resistance, and crying?
Why take it to heart? Let the mother cry in labour, let the
child cry in resistance, since they would do so. Why should he
fight against it, why resist? Let it be, if it were so. Let them
be as they were, if they insisted.

And in a daze he sat, offering no fight. The child cried on,
the minutes ticked away, a sort of torpor was on him.

It was some little time before he came to, and turned to
attend to the child. He was shocked by her little wet, blinded
face. A bit dazed, he pushed back the wet hair. Like a living
statue of grief, her blind face cried on.

"Nay," he said, "not as bad as that. It's not as bad as that,
Anna, my child. Come, what are you crying for so much? Come,
stop now, it'll make you sick. I wipe you dry, don't wet your
face any more. Don't cry any more wet tears, don't, it's better
not to. Don't cry—it's not so bad as all that. Hush now,
hush—let it be enough."

His voice was queer and distant and calm. He looked at the
child. She was beside herself now. He wanted her to stop, he
wanted it all to stop, to become natural.

"Come," he said, rising to turn away, "we'll go an' supper-up
the beast."

He took a big shawl, folded her round, and went out into the
kitchen for a lantern.

"You're never taking the child out, of a night like this,"
said Tilly.

"Ay, it'll quieten her," he answered.

It was raining. The child was suddenly still, shocked,
finding the rain on its face, the darkness.

"We'll just give the cows their something-to-eat, afore they
go to bed," Brangwen was saying to her, holding her close and
sure.

There was a trickling of water into the butt, a burst of
rain-drops sputtering on to her shawl, and the light of the
lantern swinging, flashing on a wet pavement and the base of a
wet wall. Otherwise it was black darkness: one breathed
darkness.

He opened the doors, upper and lower, and they entered into
the high, dry barn, that smelled warm even if it were not warm.
He hung the lantern on the nail and shut the door. They were in
another world now. The light shed softly on the timbered barn,
on the whitewashed walls, and the great heap of hay; instruments
cast their shadows largely, a ladder rose to the dark arch of a
loft. Outside there was the driving rain, inside, the
softly-illuminated stillness and calmness of the barn.

Holding the child on one arm, he set about preparing the food
for the cows, filling a pan with chopped hay and brewer's grains
and a little meal. The child, all wonder, watched what he did. A
new being was created in her for the new conditions. Sometimes,
a little spasm, eddying from the bygone storm of sobbing, shook
her small body. Her eyes were wide and wondering, pathetic. She
was silent, quite still.

In a sort of dream, his heart sunk to the bottom, leaving the
surface of him still, quite still, he rose with the panful of
food, carefully balancing the child on one arm, the pan in the
other hand. The silky fringe of the shawl swayed softly, grains
and hay trickled to the floor; he went along a dimly-lit passage
behind the mangers, where the horns of the cows pricked out of
the obscurity. The child shrank, he balanced stiffly, rested the
pan on the manger wall, and tipped out the food, half to this
cow, half to the next. There was a noise of chains running, as
the cows lifted or dropped their heads sharply; then a
contented, soothing sound, a long snuffing as the beasts ate in
silence.

The journey had to be performed several times. There was the
rhythmic sound of the shovel in the barn, then the man returned
walking stiffly between the two weights, the face of the child
peering out from the shawl. Then the next time, as he stooped,
she freed her arm and put it round his neck, clinging soft and
warm, making all easier.

The beasts fed, he dropped the pan and sat down on a box, to
arrange the child.

"Will the cows go to sleep now?" she said, catching her
breath as she spoke.

"Yes."

"Will they eat all their stuff up first?"

"Yes. Hark at them."

And the two sat still listening to the snuffing and breathing
of cows feeding in the sheds communicating with this small barn.
The lantern shed a soft, steady light from one wall. All outside
was still in the rain. He looked down at the silky folds of the
paisley shawl. It reminded him of his mother. She used to go to
church in it. He was back again in the old irresponsibility and
security, a boy at home.

The two sat very quiet. His mind, in a sort of trance, seemed
to become more and more vague. He held the child close to him. A
quivering little shudder, re-echoing from her sobbing, went down
her limbs. He held her closer. Gradually she relaxed, the
eyelids began to sink over her dark, watchful eyes. As she sank
to sleep, his mind became blank.

When he came to, as if from sleep, he seemed to be sitting in
a timeless stillness. What was he listening for? He seemed to be
listening for some sound a long way off, from beyond life. He
remembered his wife. He must go back to her. The child was
asleep, the eyelids not quite shut, showing a slight film of
black pupil between. Why did she not shut her eyes? Her mouth
was also a little open.

He rose quickly and went back to the house.

"Is she asleep?" whispered Tilly.

He nodded. The servant-woman came to look at the child who
slept in the shawl, with cheeks flushed hot and red, and a
whiteness, a wanness round the eyes.

"God-a-mercy!" whispered Tilly, shaking her head.

He pushed off his boots and went upstairs with the child. He
became aware of the anxiety grasped tight at his heart, because
of his wife. But he remained still. The house was silent save
for the wind outside, and the noisy trickling and splattering of
water in the water-butts. There was a slit of light under his
wife's door.

He put the child into bed wrapped as she was in the shawl,
for the sheets would be cold. Then he was afraid that she might
not be able to move her arms, so he loosened her. The black eyes
opened, rested on him vacantly, sank shut again. He covered her
up. The last little quiver from the sobbing shook her
breathing.

This was his room, the room he had had before he married. It
was familiar. He remembered what it was to be a young man,
untouched.

He remained suspended. The child slept, pushing her small
fists from the shawl. He could tell the woman her child was
asleep. But he must go to the other landing. He started. There
was the sound of the owls—the moaning of the woman. What
an uncanny sound! It was not human—at least to a man.

He went down to her room, entering softly. She was lying
still, with eyes shut, pale, tired. His heart leapt, fearing she
was dead. Yet he knew perfectly well she was not. He saw the way
her hair went loose over her temples, her mouth was shut with
suffering in a sort of grin. She was beautiful to him—but
it was not human. He had a dread of her as she lay there. What
had she to do with him? She was other than himself.

Something made him go and touch her fingers that were still
grasped on the sheet. Her brown-grey eyes opened and looked at
him. She did not know him as himself. But she knew him as the
man. She looked at him as a woman in childbirth looks at the man
who begot the child in her: an impersonal look, in the extreme
hour, female to male. Her eyes closed again. A great, scalding
peace went over him, burning his heart and his entrails, passing
off into the infinite.

When her pains began afresh, tearing her, he turned aside,
and could not look. But his heart in torture was at peace, his
bowels were glad. He went downstairs, and to the door, outside,
lifted his face to the rain, and felt the darkness striking
unseen and steadily upon him.

The swift, unseen threshing of the night upon him silenced
him and he was overcome. He turned away indoors, humbly. There
was the infinite world, eternal, unchanging, as well as the
world of life.







CHAPTER III

CHILDHOOD OF ANNA LENSKY

Tom Brangwen never loved his own son as he loved his
stepchild Anna. When they told him it was a boy, he had a thrill
of pleasure. He liked the confirmation of fatherhood. It gave
him satisfaction to know he had a son. But he felt not very much
outgoing to the baby itself. He was its father, that was
enough.

He was glad that his wife was mother of his child. She was
serene, a little bit shadowy, as if she were transplanted. In
the birth of the child she seemed to lose connection with her
former self. She became now really English, really Mrs.
Brangwen. Her vitality, however, seemed lowered.

She was still, to Brangwen, immeasurably beautiful. She was
still passionate, with a flame of being. But the flame was not
robust and present. Her eyes shone, her face glowed for him, but
like some flower opened in the shade, that could not bear the
full light. She loved the baby. But even this, with a sort of
dimness, a faint absence about her, a shadowiness even in her
mother-love. When Brangwen saw her nursing his child, happy,
absorbed in it, a pain went over him like a thin flame. For he
perceived how he must subdue himself in his approach to her. And
he wanted again the robust, moral exchange of love and passion
such as he had had at first with her, at one time and another,
when they were matched at their highest intensity. This was the
one experience for him now. And he wanted it, always, with
remorseless craving.

She came to him again, with the same lifting of her mouth as
had driven him almost mad with trammelled passion at first. She
came to him again, and, his heart delirious in delight and
readiness, he took her. And it was almost as before.

Perhaps it was quite as before. At any rate, it made him know
perfection, it established in him a constant eternal
knowledge.

But it died down before he wanted it to die down. She was
finished, she could take no more. And he was not exhausted, he
wanted to go on. But it could not be.

So he had to begin the bitter lesson, to abate himself, to
take less than he wanted. For she was Woman to him, all other
women were her shadows. For she had satisfied him. And he wanted
it to go on. And it could not. However he raged, and, filled
with suppression that became hot and bitter, hated her in his
soul that she did not want him, however he had mad outbursts,
and drank and made ugly scenes, still he knew, he was only
kicking against the pricks. It was not, he had to learn, that
she would not want him enough, as much as he demanded that she
should want him. It was that she could not. She could only want
him in her own way, and to her own measure. And she had spent
much life before he found her as she was, the woman who could
take him and give him fulfilment. She had taken him and given
him fulfilment. She still could do so, in her own times and
ways. But he must control himself, measure himself to her.

He wanted to give her all his love, all his passion, all his
essential energy. But it could not be. He must find other things
than her, other centres of living. She sat close and impregnable
with the child. And he was jealous of the child.

But he loved her, and time came to give some sort of course
to his troublesome current of life, so that it did not foam and
flood and make misery. He formed another centre of love in her
child, Anna. Gradually a part of his stream of life was diverted
to the child, relieving the main flood to his wife. Also he
sought the company of men, he drank heavily now and again.

The child ceased to have so much anxiety for her mother after
the baby came. Seeing the mother with the baby boy, delighted
and serene and secure, Anna was at first puzzled, then gradually
she became indignant, and at last her little life settled on its
own swivel, she was no more strained and distorted to support
her mother. She became more childish, not so abnormal, not
charged with cares she could not understand. The charge of the
mother, the satisfying of the mother, had devolved elsewhere
than on her. Gradually the child was freed. She became an
independent, forgetful little soul, loving from her own
centre.

Of her own choice, she then loved Brangwen most, or most
obviously. For these two made a little life together, they had a
joint activity. It amused him, at evening, to teach her to
count, or to say her letters. He remembered for her all the
little nursery rhymes and childish songs that lay forgotten at
the bottom of his brain.

At first she thought them rubbish. But he laughed, and she
laughed. They became to her a huge joke. Old King Cole she
thought was Brangwen. Mother Hubbard was Tilly, her mother was
the old woman who lived in a shoe. It was a huge, it was a
frantic delight to the child, this nonsense, after her years
with her mother, after the poignant folk-tales she had had from
her mother, which always troubled and mystified her soul.

She shared a sort of recklessness with her father, a
complete, chosen carelessness that had the laugh of ridicule in
it. He loved to make her voice go high and shouting and defiant
with laughter. The baby was dark-skinned and dark-haired, like
the mother, and had hazel eyes. Brangwen called him the
blackbird.

"Hallo," Brangwen would cry, starting as he heard the wail of
the child announcing it wanted to be taken out of the cradle,
"there's the blackbird tuning up."

"The blackbird's singing," Anna would shout with delight,
"the blackbird's singing."

"When the pie was opened," Brangwen shouted in his bawling
bass voice, going over to the cradle, "the bird began to
sing."

"Wasn't it a dainty dish to set before a king?" cried Anna,
her eyes flashing with joy as she uttered the cryptic words,
looking at Brangwen for confirmation. He sat down with the baby,
saying loudly:

"Sing up, my lad, sing up."

And the baby cried loudly, and Anna shouted lustily, dancing
in wild bliss:

   "Sing a song of sixpence
Pocketful of posies,
Ascha! Ascha!——"

Then she stopped suddenly in silence and looked at Brangwen
again, her eyes flashing, as she shouted loudly and
delightedly:

"I've got it wrong, I've got it wrong."

"Oh, my sirs," said Tilly entering, "what a racket!"

Brangwen hushed the child and Anna flipped and danced on. She
loved her wild bursts of rowdiness with her father. Tilly hated
it, Mrs. Brangwen did not mind.

Anna did not care much for other children. She domineered
them, she treated them as if they were extremely young and
incapable, to her they were little people, they were not her
equals. So she was mostly alone, flying round the farm,
entertaining the farm-hands and Tilly and the servant-girl,
whirring on and never ceasing.

She loved driving with Brangwen in the trap. Then, sitting
high up and bowling along, her passion for eminence and
dominance was satisfied. She was like a little savage in her
arrogance. She thought her father important, she was installed
beside him on high. And they spanked along, beside the high,
flourishing hedge-tops, surveying the activity of the
countryside. When people shouted a greeting to him from the road
below, and Brangwen shouted jovially back, her little voice was
soon heard shrilling along with his, followed by her chuckling
laugh, when she looked up at her father with bright eyes, and
they laughed at each other. And soon it was the custom for the
passerby to sing out: "How are ter, Tom? Well, my lady!" or
else, "Mornin', Tom, mornin', my Lass!" or else, "You're off
together then?" or else, "You're lookin' rarely, you two."

Anna would respond, with her father: "How are you, John!
Good mornin', William! Ay, makin' for Derby," shrilling
as loudly as she could. Though often, in response to "You're off
out a bit then," she would reply, "Yes, we are," to the great
joy of all. She did not like the people who saluted him and did
not salute her.

She went into the public-house with him, if he had to call,
and often sat beside him in the bar-parlour as he drank his beer
or brandy. The landladies paid court to her, in the obsequious
way landladies have.

"Well, little lady, an' what's your name?"

"Anna Brangwen," came the immediate, haughty answer.

"Indeed it is! An' do you like driving in a trap with your
father?"

"Yes," said Anna, shy, but bored by these inanities. She had
a touch-me-not way of blighting the inane inquiries of grown-up
people.

"My word, she's a fawce little thing," the landlady would say
to Brangwen.

"Ay," he answered, not encouraging comments on the child.
Then there followed the present of a biscuit, or of cake, which
Anna accepted as her dues.

"What does she say, that I'm a fawce little thing?" the small
girl asked afterwards.

"She means you're a sharp-shins."

Anna hesitated. She did not understand. Then she laughed at
some absurdity she found.

Soon he took her every week to market with him. "I can come,
can't I?" she asked every Saturday, or Thursday morning, when he
made himself look fine in his dress of a gentleman farmer. And
his face clouded at having to refuse her.

So at last, he overcame his own shyness, and tucked her
beside him. They drove into Nottingham and put up at the "Black
Swan". So far all right. Then he wanted to leave her at the inn.
But he saw her face, and knew it was impossible. So he mustered
his courage, and set off with her, holding her hand, to the
cattle-market.

She stared in bewilderment, flitting silent at his side. But
in the cattle-market she shrank from the press of men, all men,
all in heavy, filthy boots, and leathern leggins. And the road
underfoot was all nasty with cow-muck. And it frightened her to
see the cattle in the square pens, so many horns, and so little
enclosure, and such a madness of men and a yelling of drovers.
Also she felt her father was embarrassed by her, and
ill-at-ease.

He brought her a cake at the refreshment-booth, and set her
on a seat. A man hailed him.

"Good morning, Tom. That thine, then?"—and the
bearded farmer jerked his head at Anna.

"Ay," said Brangwen, deprecating.

"I did-na know tha'd one that old."

"No, it's my missis's."

"Oh, that's it!" And the man looked at Anna as if she were
some odd little cattle. She glowered with black eyes.

Brangwen left her there, in charge of the barman, whilst he
went to see about the selling of some young stirks. Farmers,
butchers, drovers, dirty, uncouth men from whom she shrank
instinctively stared down at her as she sat on her seat, then
went to get their drink, talking in unabated tones. All was big
and violent about her.

"Whose child met that be?" they asked of the barman.

"It belongs to Tom Brangwen."

The child sat on in neglect, watching the door for her
father. He never came; many, many men came, but not he, and she
sat like a shadow. She knew one did not cry in such a place. And
every man looked at her inquisitively, she shut herself away
from them.

A deep, gathering coldness of isolation took hold on her. He
was never coming back. She sat on, frozen, unmoving.

When she had become blank and timeless he came, and she
slipped off her seat to him, like one come back from the dead.
He had sold his beast as quickly as he could. But all the
business was not finished. He took her again through the
hurtling welter of the cattle-market.

Then at last they turned and went out through the gate. He
was always hailing one man or another, always stopping to gossip
about land and cattle and horses and other things she did not
understand, standing in the filth and the smell, among the legs
and great boots of men. And always she heard the questions:

"What lass is that, then? I didn't know tha'd one o' that
age."

"It belongs to my missis."

Anna was very conscious of her derivation from her mother, in
the end, and of her alienation.

But at last they were away, and Brangwen went with her into a
little dark, ancient eating-house in the Bridlesmith-Gate. They
had cow's-tail soup, and meat and cabbage and potatoes. Other
men, other people, came into the dark, vaulted place, to eat.
Anna was wide-eyed and silent with wonder.

Then they went into the big market, into the corn exchange,
then to shops. He bought her a little book off a stall. He loved
buying things, odd things that he thought would be useful. Then
they went to the "Black Swan", and she drank milk and he brandy,
and they harnessed the horse and drove off, up the Derby
Road.

She was tired out with wonder and marvelling. But the next
day, when she thought of it, she skipped, flipping her leg in
the odd dance she did, and talked the whole time of what had
happened to her, of what she had seen. It lasted her all the
week. And the next Saturday she was eager to go again.

She became a familiar figure in the cattle-market, sitting
waiting in the little booth. But she liked best to go to Derby.
There her father had more friends. And she liked the familiarity
of the smaller town, the nearness of the river, the strangeness
that did not frighten her, it was so much smaller. She liked the
covered-in market, and the old women. She liked the "George
Inn", where her father put up. The landlord was Brangwen's old
friend, and Anna was made much of. She sat many a day in the
cosy parlour talking to Mr. Wigginton, a fat man with red hair,
the landlord. And when the farmers all gathered at twelve
o'clock for dinner, she was a little heroine.

At first she would only glower or hiss at these strange men
with their uncouth accent. But they were good-humoured. She was
a little oddity, with her fierce, fair hair like spun glass
sticking out in a flamy halo round the apple-blossom face and
the black eyes, and the men liked an oddity. She kindled their
attention.

She was very angry because Marriott, a gentleman-farmer from
Ambergate, called her the little pole-cat.

"Why, you're a pole-cat," he said to her.

"I'm not," she flashed.

"You are. That's just how a pole-cat goes."

She thought about it.

"Well, you're—you're——" she began.

"I'm what?"

She looked him up and down.

"You're a bow-leg man."

Which he was. There was a roar of laughter. They loved her
that she was indomitable.

"Ah," said Marriott. "Only a pole-cat says that."

"Well, I am a pole-cat," she flamed.

There was another roar of laughter from the men.

They loved to tease her.

"Well, me little maid," Braithwaite would say to her, "an'
how's th' lamb's wool?"

He gave a tug at a glistening, pale piece of her hair.

"It's not lamb's wool," said Anna, indignantly putting back
her offended lock.

"Why, what'st ca' it then?"

"It's hair."

"Hair! Wheriver dun they rear that sort?"

"Wheriver dun they?" she asked, in dialect, her curiosity
overcoming her.

Instead of answering he shouted with joy. It was the triumph,
to make her speak dialect.

She had one enemy, the man they called Nut-Nat, or Nat-Nut, a
cretin, with inturned feet, who came flap-lapping along,
shoulder jerking up at every step. This poor creature sold nuts
in the public-houses where he was known. He had no roof to his
mouth, and the men used to mock his speech.

The first time he came into the "George" when Anna was there,
she asked, after he had gone, her eyes very round:

"Why does he do that when he walks?"

"'E canna 'elp 'isself, Duckie, it's th' make o' th'
fellow."

She thought about it, then she laughed nervously. And then
she bethought herself, her cheeks flushed, and she cried:

"He's a horrid man."

"Nay, he's non horrid; he canna help it if he wor struck that
road."

But when poor Nat came wambling in again, she slid away. And
she would not eat his nuts, if the men bought them for her. And
when the farmers gambled at dominoes for them, she was
angry.

"They are dirty-man's nuts," she cried.

So a revulsion started against Nat, who had not long after to
go to the workhouse.

There grew in Brangwen's heart now a secret desire to make
her a lady. His brother Alfred, in Nottingham, had caused a
great scandal by becoming the lover of an educated woman, a
lady, widow of a doctor. Very often, Alfred Brangwen went down
as a friend to her cottage, which was in Derbyshire, leaving his
wife and family for a day or two, then returning to them. And
no-one dared gainsay him, for he was a strong-willed, direct
man, and he said he was a friend of this widow.

One day Brangwen met his brother on the station.

"Where are you going to, then?" asked the younger
brother.

"I'm going down to Wirksworth."

"You've got friends down there, I'm told."

"Yes."

"I s'll have to be lookin' in when I'm down that road."

"You please yourself."

Tom Brangwen was so curious about the woman that the next
time he was in Wirksworth he asked for her house.

He found a beautiful cottage on the steep side of a hill,
looking clean over the town, that lay in the bottom of the
basin, and away at the old quarries on the opposite side of the
space. Mrs. Forbes was in the garden. She was a tall woman with
white hair. She came up the path taking off her thick gloves,
laying down her shears. It was autumn. She wore a wide-brimmed
hat.

Brangwen blushed to the roots of his hair, and did not know
what to say.

"I thought I might look in," he said, "knowing you were
friends of my brother's. I had to come to Wirksworth."

She saw at once that he was a Brangwen.

"Will you come in?" she said. "My father is lying down."

She took him into a drawing-room, full of books, with a piano
and a violin-stand. And they talked, she simply and easily. She
was full of dignity. The room was of a kind Brangwen had never
known; the atmosphere seemed open and spacious, like a
mountain-top to him.

"Does my brother like reading?" he asked.

"Some things. He has been reading Herbert Spencer. And we
read Browning sometimes."

Brangwen was full of admiration, deep thrilling, almost
reverential admiration. He looked at her with lit-up eyes when
she said, "we read". At last he burst out, looking round the
room:

"I didn't know our Alfred was this way inclined."

"He is quite an unusual man."

He looked at her in amazement. She evidently had a new idea
of his brother: she evidently appreciated him. He looked again
at the woman. She was about forty, straight, rather hard, a
curious, separate creature. Himself, he was not in love with
her, there was something chilling about her. But he was filled
with boundless admiration.

At tea-time he was introduced to her father, an invalid who
had to be helped about, but who was ruddy and well-favoured,
with snowy hair and watery blue eyes, and a courtly naive manner
that again was new and strange to Brangwen, so suave, so merry,
so innocent.

His brother was this woman's lover! It was too amazing.
Brangwen went home despising himself for his own poor way of
life. He was a clod-hopper and a boor, dull, stuck in the mud.
More than ever he wanted to clamber out, to this visionary
polite world.

He was well off. He was as well off as Alfred, who could not
have above six hundred a year, all told. He himself made about
four hundred, and could make more. His investments got better
every day. Why did he not do something? His wife was a lady
also.

But when he got to the Marsh, he realized how fixed
everything was, how the other form of life was beyond him, and
he regretted for the first time that he had succeeded to the
farm. He felt a prisoner, sitting safe and easy and
unadventurous. He might, with risk, have done more with himself.
He could neither read Browning nor Herbert Spencer, nor have
access to such a room as Mrs. Forbes's. All that form of life
was outside him.

But then, he said he did not want it. The excitement of the
visit began to pass off. The next day he was himself, and if he
thought of the other woman, there was something about her and
her place that he did not like, something cold something alien,
as if she were not a woman, but an inhuman being who used up
human life for cold, unliving purposes.

The evening came on, he played with Anna, and then sat alone
with his own wife. She was sewing. He sat very still, smoking,
perturbed. He was aware of his wife's quiet figure, and quiet
dark head bent over her needle. It was too quiet for him. It was
too peaceful. He wanted to smash the walls down, and let the
night in, so that his wife should not be so secure and quiet,
sitting there. He wished the air were not so close and narrow.
His wife was obliterated from him, she was in her own world,
quiet, secure, unnoticed, unnoticing. He was shut down by
her.

He rose to go out. He could not sit still any longer. He must
get out of this oppressive, shut-down, woman-haunt.

His wife lifted her head and looked at him.

"Are you going out?" she asked.

He looked down and met her eyes. They were darker than
darkness, and gave deeper space. He felt himself retreating
before her, defensive, whilst her eyes followed and tracked him
own.

"I was just going up to Cossethay," he said.

She remained watching him.

"Why do you go?" she said.

His heart beat fast, and he sat down, slowly.

"No reason particular," he said, beginning to fill his pipe
again, mechanically.

"Why do you go away so often?" she said.

"But you don't want me," he replied.

She was silent for a while.

"You do not want to be with me any more," she said.

It startled him. How did she know this truth? He thought it
was his secret.

"Yi," he said.

"You want to find something else," she said.

He did not answer. "Did he?" he asked himself.

"You should not want so much attention," she said. "You are
not a baby."

"I'm not grumbling," he said. Yet he knew he was.

"You think you have not enough," she said.

"How enough?"

"You think you have not enough in me. But how do you know me?
What do you do to make me love you?"

He was flabbergasted.

"I never said I hadn't enough in you," he replied. "I didn't
know you wanted making to love me. What do you want?"

"You don't make it good between us any more, you are not
interested. You do not make me want you."

"And you don't make me want you, do you now?" There was a
silence. They were such strangers.

"Would you like to have another woman?" she asked.

His eyes grew round, he did not know where he was. How could
she, his own wife, say such a thing? But she sat there, small
and foreign and separate. It dawned upon him she did not
consider herself his wife, except in so far as they agreed. She
did not feel she had married him. At any rate, she was willing
to allow he might want another woman. A gap, a space opened
before him.

"No," he said slowly. "What other woman should I want?"

"Like your brother," she said.

He was silent for some time, ashamed also.

"What of her?" he said. "I didn't like the woman."

"Yes, you liked her," she answered persistently.

He stared in wonder at his own wife as she told him his own
heart so callously. And he was indignant. What right had she to
sit there telling him these things? She was his wife, what right
had she to speak to him like this, as if she were a
stranger.

"I didn't," he said. "I want no woman."

"Yes, you would like to be like Alfred."

His silence was one of angry frustration. He was astonished.
He had told her of his visit to Wirksworth, but briefly, without
interest, he thought.

As she sat with her strange dark face turned towards him, her
eyes watched him, inscrutable, casting him up. He began to
oppose her. She was again the active unknown facing him. Must he
admit her? He resisted involuntarily.

"Why should you want to find a woman who is more to you than
me?" she said.

The turbulence raged in his breast.

"I don't," he said.

"Why do you?" she repeated. "Why do you want to deny me?"

Suddenly, in a flash, he saw she might be lonely, isolated,
unsure. She had seemed to him the utterly certain, satisfied,
absolute, excluding him. Could she need anything?

"Why aren't you satisfied with me?—I'm not satisfied
with you. Paul used to come to me and take me like a man does.
You only leave me alone or take me like your cattle, quickly, to
forget me again—so that you can forget me again."

"What am I to remember about you?" said Brangwen.

"I want you to know there is somebody there besides
yourself."

"Well, don't I know it?"

"You come to me as if it was for nothing, as if I was nothing
there. When Paul came to me, I was something to him—a
woman, I was. To you I am nothing—it is like
cattle—or nothing——"

"You make me feel as if I was nothing," he said.

They were silent. She sat watching him. He could not move,
his soul was seething and chaotic. She turned to her sewing
again. But the sight of her bent before him held him and would
not let him be. She was a strange, hostile, dominant thing. Yet
not quite hostile. As he sat he felt his limbs were strong and
hard, he sat in strength.

She was silent for a long time, stitching. He was aware,
poignantly, of the round shape of her head, very intimate,
compelling. She lifted her head and sighed. The blood burned in
him, her voice ran to him like fire.

"Come here," she said, unsure.

For some moments he did not move. Then he rose slowly and
went across the hearth. It required an almost deathly effort of
volition, or of acquiescence. He stood before her and looked
down at her. Her face was shining again, her eyes were shining
again like terrible laughter. It was to him terrible, how she
could be transfigured. He could not look at her, it burnt his
heart.

"My love!" she said.

And she put her arms round him as he stood before her round
his thighs, pressing him against her breast. And her hands on
him seemed to reveal to him the mould of his own nakedness, he
was passionately lovely to himself. He could not bear to look at
her.

"My dear!" she said. He knew she spoke a foreign language.
The fear was like bliss in his heart. He looked down. Her face
was shining, her eyes were full of light, she was awful. He
suffered from the compulsion to her. She was the awful unknown.
He bent down to her, suffering, unable to let go, unable to let
himself go, yet drawn, driven. She was now the transfigured, she
was wonderful, beyond him. He wanted to go. But he could not as
yet kiss her. He was himself apart. Easiest he could kiss her
feet. But he was too ashamed for the actual deed, which were
like an affront. She waited for him to meet her, not to bow
before her and serve her. She wanted his active participation,
not his submission. She put her fingers on him. And it was
torture to him, that he must give himself to her actively,
participate in her, that he must meet and embrace and know her,
who was other than himself. There was that in him which shrank
from yielding to her, resisted the relaxing towards her, opposed
the mingling with her, even while he most desired it. He was
afraid, he wanted to save himself.

There were a few moments of stillness. Then gradually, the
tension, the withholding relaxed in him, and he began to flow
towards her. She was beyond him, the unattainable. But he let go
his hold on himself, he relinquished himself, and knew the
subterranean force of his desire to come to her, to be with her,
to mingle with her, losing himself to find her, to find himself
in her. He began to approach her, to draw near.

His blood beat up in waves of desire. He wanted to come to
her, to meet her. She was there, if he could reach her. The
reality of her who was just beyond him absorbed him. Blind and
destroyed, he pressed forward, nearer, nearer, to receive the
consummation of himself, he received within the darkness which
should swallow him and yield him up to himself. If he could come
really within the blazing kernel of darkness, if really he could
be destroyed, burnt away till he lit with her in one
consummation, that were supreme, supreme.

Their coming together now, after two years of married life,
was much more wonderful to them than it had been before. It was
the entry into another circle of existence, it was the baptism
to another life, it was the complete confirmation. Their feet
trod strange ground of knowledge, their footsteps were lit-up
with discovery. Wherever they walked, it was well, the world
re-echoed round them in discovery. They went gladly and
forgetful. Everything was lost, and everything was found. The
new world was discovered, it remained only to be explored.

They had passed through the doorway into the further space,
where movement was so big, that it contained bonds and
constraints and labours, and still was complete liberty. She was
the doorway to him, he to her. At last they had thrown open the
doors, each to the other, and had stood in the doorways facing
each other, whilst the light flooded out from behind on to each
of their faces, it was the transfiguration, glorification, the
admission.

And always the light of the transfiguration burned on in
their hearts. He went his way, as before, she went her way, to
the rest of the world there seemed no change. But to the two of
them, there was the perpetual wonder of the transfiguration.

He did not know her any better, any more precisely, now that
he knew her altogether. Poland, her husband, the war—he
understood no more of this in her. He did not understand her
foreign nature, half German, half Polish, nor her foreign
speech. But he knew her, he knew her meaning, without
understanding. What she said, what she spoke, this was a blind
gesture on her part. In herself she walked strong and clear, he
knew her, he saluted her, was with her. What was memory after
all, but the recording of a number of possibilities which had
never been fulfilled? What was Paul Lensky to her, but an
unfulfilled possibility to which he, Brangwen, was the reality
and the fulfilment? What did it matter, that Anna Lensky was
born of Lydia and Paul? God was her father and her mother. He
had passed through the married pair without fully making Himself
known to them.

Now He was declared to Brangwen and to Lydia Brangwen, as
they stood together. When at last they had joined hands, the
house was finished, and the Lord took up his abode. And they
were glad.

The days went on as before, Brangwen went out to his work,
his wife nursed her child and attended in some measure to the
farm. They did not think of each other-why should they? Only
when she touched him, he knew her instantly, that she was with
him, near him, that she was the gateway and the way out, that
she was beyond, and that he was travelling in her through the
beyond. Whither?—What does it matter? He responded always.
When she called, he answered, when he asked, her response came
at once, or at length.

Anna's soul was put at peace between them. She looked from
one to the other, and she saw them established to her safety,
and she was free. She played between the pillar of fire and the
pillar of cloud in confidence, having the assurance on her right
hand and the assurance on her left. She was no longer called
upon to uphold with her childish might the broken end of the
arch. Her father and her mother now met to the span of the
heavens, and she, the child, was free to play in the space
beneath, between.







CHAPTER IV

GIRLHOOD OF ANNE BRANGWEN

When Anna was nine years old, Brangwen sent her to the dames'
school in Cossethay. There she went, flipping and dancing in her
inconsequential fashion, doing very much as she liked,
disconcerting old Miss Coates by her indifference to
respectability and by her lack of reverence. Anna only laughed
at Miss Coates, liked her, and patronized her in superb,
childish fashion.

The girl was at once shy and wild. She had a curious contempt
for ordinary people, a benevolent superiority. She was very shy,
and tortured with misery when people did not like her. On the
other hand, she cared very little for anybody save her mother,
whom she still rather resentfully worshipped, and her father,
whom she loved and patronized, but upon whom she depended. These
two, her mother and father, held her still in fee. But she was
free of other people, towards whom, on the whole, she took the
benevolent attitude. She deeply hated ugliness or intrusion or
arrogance, however. As a child, she was as proud and shadowy as
a tiger, and as aloof. She could confer favours, but, save from
her mother and father, she could receive none. She hated people
who came too near to her. Like a wild thing, she wanted her
distance. She mistrusted intimacy.

In Cossethay and Ilkeston she was always an alien. She had
plenty of acquaintances, but no friends. Very few people whom
she met were significant to her. They seemed part of a herd,
undistinguished. She did not take people very seriously.

She had two brothers, Tom, dark-haired, small, volatile, whom
she was intimately related to but whom she never mingled with,
and Fred, fair and responsive, whom she adored but did not
consider as a real, separate thing. She was too much the centre
of her own universe, too little aware of anything outside.

The first person she met, who affected her as a real,
living person, whom she regarded as having definite existence,
was Baron Skrebensky, her mother's friend. He also was a Polish
exile, who had taken orders, and had received from Mr. Gladstone
a small country living in Yorkshire.

When Anna was about ten years old, she went with her mother
to spend a few days with the Baron Skrebensky. He was very
unhappy in his red-brick vicarage. He was vicar of a country
church, a living worth a little over two hundred pounds a year,
but he had a large parish containing several collieries, with a
new, raw, heathen population. He went to the north of England
expecting homage from the common people, for he was an
aristocrat. He was roughly, even cruelly received. But he never
understood it. He remained a fiery aristocrat. Only he had to
learn to avoid his parishioners.

Anna was very much impressed by him. He was a smallish man
with a rugged, rather crumpled face and blue eyes set very deep
and glowing. His wife was a tall thin woman, of noble Polish
family, mad with pride. He still spoke broken English, for he
had kept very close to his wife, both of them forlorn in this
strange, inhospitable country, and they always spoke in Polish
together. He was disappointed with Mrs. Brangwen's soft, natural
English, very disappointed that her child spoke no Polish.

Anna loved to watch him. She liked the big, new, rambling
vicarage, desolate and stark on its hill. It was so exposed, so
bleak and bold after the Marsh. The Baron talked endlessly in
Polish to Mrs. Brangwen; he made furious gestures with his
hands, his blue eyes were full of fire. And to Anna, there was a
significance about his sharp, flinging movements. Something in
her responded to his extravagance and his exuberant manner. She
thought him a very wonderful person. She was shy of him, she
liked him to talk to her. She felt a sense of freedom near
him.

She never could tell how she knew it, but she did know that
he was a knight of Malta. She could never remember whether she
had seen his star, or cross, of his order or not, but it flashed
in her mind, like a symbol. He at any rate represented to the
child the real world, where kings and lords and princes moved
and fulfilled their shining lives, whilst queens and ladies and
princesses upheld the noble order.

She had recognized the Baron Skrebensky as a real person, he
had had some regard for her. But when she did not see him any
more, he faded and became a memory. But as a memory he was
always alive to her.

Anna became a tall, awkward girl. Her eyes were still very
dark and quick, but they had grown careless, they had lost their
watchful, hostile look. Her fierce, spun hair turned brown, it
grew heavier and was tied back. She was sent to a young ladies'
school in Nottingham.

And at this period she was absorbed in becoming a young lady.
She was intelligent enough, but not interested in learning. At
first, she thought all the girls at school very ladylike and
wonderful, and she wanted to be like them. She came to a speedy
disillusion: they galled and maddened her, they were petty and
mean. After the loose, generous atmosphere of her home, where
little things did not count, she was always uneasy in the world,
that would snap and bite at every trifle.

A quick change came over her. She mistrusted herself, she
mistrusted the outer world. She did not want to go on, she did
not want to go out into it, she wanted to go no further.

"What do I care about that lot of girls?" she would
say to her father, contemptuously; "they are nobody."

The trouble was that the girls would not accept Anna at her
measure. They would have her according to themselves or not at
all. So she was confused, seduced, she became as they were for a
time, and then, in revulsion, she hated them furiously.

"Why don't you ask some of your girls here?" her father would
say.

"They're not coming here," she cried.

"And why not?"

"They're bagatelle," she said, using one of her mother's rare
phrases.

"Bagatelles or billiards, it makes no matter, they're nice
young lasses enough."

But Anna was not to be won over. She had a curious shrinking
from commonplace people, and particularly from the young lady of
her day. She would not go into company because of the
ill-at-ease feeling other people brought upon her. And she never
could decide whether it were her fault or theirs. She half
respected these other people, and continuous disillusion
maddened her. She wanted to respect them. Still she thought the
people she did not know were wonderful. Those she knew seemed
always to be limiting her, tying her up in little falsities that
irritated her beyond bearing. She would rather stay at home and
avoid the rest of the world, leaving it illusory.

For at the Marsh life had indeed a certain freedom and
largeness. There was no fret about money, no mean little
precedence, nor care for what other people thought, because
neither Mrs. Brangwen nor Brangwen could be sensible of any
judgment passed on them from outside. Their lives were too
separate.

So Anna was only easy at home, where the common sense and the
supreme relation between her parents produced a freer standard
of being than she could find outside. Where, outside the Marsh,
could she find the tolerant dignity she had been brought up in?
Her parents stood undiminished and unaware of criticism. The
people she met outside seemed to begrudge her her very
existence. They seemed to want to belittle her also. She was
exceedingly reluctant to go amongst them. She depended upon her
mother and her father. And yet she wanted to go out.

At school, or in the world, she was usually at fault, she
felt usually that she ought to be slinking in disgrace. She
never felt quite sure, in herself, whether she were wrong, or
whether the others were wrong. She had not done her lessons:
well, she did not see any reason why she should do her
lessons, if she did not want to. Was there some occult reason
why she should? Were these people, schoolmistresses,
representatives of some mystic Right, some Higher Good? They
seemed to think so themselves. But she could not for her life
see why a woman should bully and insult her because she did not
know thirty lines of As You Like It. After all, what did
it matter if she knew them or not? Nothing could persuade her
that it was of the slightest importance. Because she despised
inwardly the coarsely working nature of the mistress. Therefore
she was always at outs with authority. From constant telling,
she came almost to believe in her own badness, her own intrinsic
inferiority. She felt that she ought always to be in a state of
slinking disgrace, if she fulfilled what was expected of her.
But she rebelled. She never really believed in her own badness.
At the bottom of her heart she despised the other people, who
carped and were loud over trifles. She despised them, and wanted
revenge on them. She hated them whilst they had power over
her.

Still she kept an ideal: a free, proud lady absolved from the
petty ties, existing beyond petty considerations. She would see
such ladies in pictures: Alexandra, Princess of Wales, was one
of her models. This lady was proud and royal, and stepped
indifferently over all small, mean desires: so thought Anna, in
her heart. And the girl did up her hair high under a little
slanting hat, her skirts were fashionably bunched up, she wore
an elegant, skin-fitting coat.

Her father was delighted. Anna was very proud in her bearing,
too naturally indifferent to smaller bonds to satisfy Ilkeston,
which would have liked to put her down. But Brangwen was having
no such thing. If she chose to be royal, royal she should be. He
stood like a rock between her and the world.

After the fashion of his family, he grew stout and handsome.
His blue eyes were full of light, twinkling and sensitive, his
manner was deliberate, but hearty, warm. His capacity for living
his own life without attention from his neighbours made them
respect him. They would run to do anything for him. He did not
consider them, but was open-handed towards them, so they made
profit of their willingness. He liked people, so long as they
remained in the background.

Mrs. Brangwen went on in her own way, following her own
devices. She had her husband, her two sons and Anna. These
staked out and marked her horizon. The other people were
outsiders. Inside her own world, her life passed along like a
dream for her, it lapsed, and she lived within its lapse, active
and always pleased, intent. She scarcely noticed the outer
things at all. What was outside was outside, non-existent. She
did not mind if the boys fought, so long as it was out of her
presence. But if they fought when she was by, she was angry, and
they were afraid of her. She did not care if they broke a window
of a railway carriage or sold their watches to have a revel at
the Goose Fair. Brangwen was perhaps angry over these things. To
the mother they were insignificant. It was odd little things
that offended her. She was furious if the boys hung around the
slaughter-house, she was displeased when the school reports were
bad. It did not matter how many sins her boys were accused of,
so long as they were not stupid, or inferior. If they seemed to
brook insult, she hated them. And it was only a certain
gaucherie, a gawkiness on Anna's part that irritated her
against the girl. Certain forms of clumsiness, grossness, made
the mother's eyes glow with curious rage. Otherwise she was
pleased, indifferent.

Pursuing her splendid-lady ideal, Anna became a lofty
demoiselle of sixteen, plagued by family shortcomings. She was
very sensitive to her father. She knew if he had been drinking,
were he ever so little affected, and she could not bear it. He
flushed when he drank, the veins stood out on his temples, there
was a twinkling, cavalier boisterousness in his eye, his manner
was jovially overbearing and mocking. And it angered her. When
she heard his loud, roaring, boisterous mockery, an anger of
resentment filled her. She was quick to forestall him, the
moment he came in.

"You look a sight, you do, red in the face," she cried.

"I might look worse if I was green," he answered.

"Boozing in Ilkeston."

"And what's wrong wi' Il'son?"

She flounced away. He watched her with amused, twinkling
eyes, yet in spite of himself said that she flouted him.

They were a curious family, a law to themselves, separate
from the world, isolated, a small republic set in invisible
bounds. The mother was quite indifferent to Ilkeston and
Cossethay, to any claims made on her from outside, she was very
shy of any outsider, exceedingly courteous, winning even. But
the moment the visitor had gone, she laughed and dismissed him,
he did not exist. It had been all a game to her. She was still a
foreigner, unsure of her ground. But alone with her own children
and husband at the Marsh, she was mistress of a little native
land that lacked nothing.

She had some beliefs somewhere, never defined. She had been
brought up a Roman Catholic. She had gone to the Church of
England for protection. The outward form was a matter of
indifference to her. Yet she had some fundamental religion. It
was as if she worshipped God as a mystery, never seeking in the
least to define what He was.

And inside her, the subtle sense of the Great Absolute
wherein she had her being was very strong. The English dogma
never reached her: the language was too foreign. Through it all
she felt the great Separator who held life in His hands,
gleaming, imminent, terrible, the Great Mystery, immediate
beyond all telling.

She shone and gleamed to the Mystery, Whom she knew through
all her senses, she glanced with strange, mystic superstitions
that never found expression in the English language, never
mounted to thought in English. But so she lived, within a
potent, sensuous belief that included her family and contained
her destiny.

To this she had reduced her husband. He existed with her
entirely indifferent to the general values of the world. Her
very ways, the very mark of her eyebrows were symbols and
indication to him. There, on the farm with her, he lived through
a mystery of life and death and creation, strange, profound
ecstasies and incommunicable satisfactions, of which the rest of
the world knew nothing; which made the pair of them apart and
respected in the English village, for they were also
well-to-do.

But Anna was only half safe within her mother's unthinking
knowledge. She had a mother-of-pearl rosary that had been her
own father's. What it meant to her she could never say. But the
string of moonlight and silver, when she had it between her
fingers, filled her with strange passion. She learned at school
a little Latin, she learned an Ave Maria and a Pater Noster, she
learned how to say her rosary. But that was no good. "Ave Maria,
gratia plena, Dominus tecum, Benedicta tu in mulieribus et
benedictus fructus ventris tui Jesus. Ave Maria, Sancta Maria,
ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc et in hora mortis nostrae,
Amen."

It was not right, somehow. What these words meant when
translated was not the same as the pale rosary meant. There was
a discrepancy, a falsehood. It irritated her to say, "Dominus
tecum," or, "benedicta tu in mulieribus." She loved the mystic
words, "Ave Maria, Sancta Maria;" she was moved by "benedictus
fructus ventris tui Jesus," and by "nunc et in hora mortis
nostrae." But none of it was quite real. It was not
satisfactory, somehow.

She avoided her rosary, because, moving her with curious
passion as it did, it meant only these not very
significant things. She put it away. It was her instinct to put
all these things away. It was her instinct to avoid thinking, to
avoid it, to save herself.

She was seventeen, touchy, full of spirits, and very moody:
quick to flush, and always uneasy, uncertain. For some reason or
other, she turned more to her father, she felt almost flashes of
hatred for her mother. Her mother's dark muzzle and curiously
insidious ways, her mother's utter surety and confidence, her
strange satisfaction, even triumph, her mother's way of laughing
at things and her mother's silent overriding of vexatious
propositions, most of all her mother's triumphant power maddened
the girl.

She became sudden and incalculable. Often she stood at the
window, looking out, as if she wanted to go. Sometimes she went,
she mixed with people. But always she came home in anger, as if
she were diminished, belittled, almost degraded.

There was over the house a kind of dark silence and
intensity, in which passion worked its inevitable conclusions.
There was in the house a sort of richness, a deep, inarticulate
interchange which made other places seem thin and unsatisfying.
Brangwen could sit silent, smoking in his chair, the mother
could move about in her quiet, insidious way, and the sense of
the two presences was powerful, sustaining. The whole
intercourse was wordless, intense and close.

But Anna was uneasy. She wanted to get away. Yet wherever she
went, there came upon her that feeling of thinness, as if she
were made smaller, belittled. She hastened home.

There she raged and interrupted the strong, settled
interchange. Sometimes her mother turned on her with a fierce,
destructive anger, in which was no pity or consideration. And
Anna shrank, afraid. She went to her father.

He would still listen to the spoken word, which fell sterile
on the unheeding mother. Sometimes Anna talked to her father.
She tried to discuss people, she wanted to know what was meant.
But her father became uneasy. He did not want to have things
dragged into consciousness. Only out of consideration for her he
listened. And there was a kind of bristling rousedness in the
room. The cat got up and stretching itself, went uneasily to the
door. Mrs. Brangwen was silent, she seemed ominous. Anna could
not go on with her fault-finding, her criticism, her expression
of dissatisfactions. She felt even her father against her. He
had a strong, dark bond with her mother, a potent intimacy that
existed inarticulate and wild, following its own course, and
savage if interrupted, uncovered.

Nevertheless Brangwen was uneasy about the girl, the whole
house continued to be disturbed. She had a pathetic, baffled
appeal. She was hostile to her parents, even whilst she lived
entirely with them, within their spell.

Many ways she tried, of escape. She became an assiduous
church-goer. But the language meant nothing to her: it
seemed false. She hated to hear things expressed, put into
words. Whilst the religious feelings were inside her they were
passionately moving. In the mouth of the clergyman, they were
false, indecent. She tried to read. But again the tedium and the
sense of the falsity of the spoken word put her off. She went to
stay with girl friends. At first she thought it splendid. But
then the inner boredom came on, it seemed to her all
nothingness. And she felt always belittled, as if never, never
could she stretch her length and stride her stride.

Her mind reverted often to the torture cell of a certain
Bishop of France, in which the victim could neither stand nor
lie stretched out, never. Not that she thought of herself in any
connection with this. But often there came into her mind the
wonder, how the cell was built, and she could feel the horror of
the crampedness, as something very real.

She was, however, only eighteen when a letter came from Mrs.
Alfred Brangwen, in Nottingham, saying that her son William was
coming to Ilkeston to take a place as junior draughtsman,
scarcely more than apprentice, in a lace factory. He was twenty
years old, and would the Marsh Brangwens be friendly with
him.

Tom Brangwen at once wrote offering the young man a home at
the Marsh. This was not accepted, but the Nottingham Brangwens
expressed gratitude.

There had never been much love lost between the Nottingham
Brangwens and the Marsh. Indeed, Mrs. Alfred, having inherited
three thousand pounds, and having occasion to be dissatisfied
with her husband, held aloof from all the Brangwens whatsoever.
She affected, however, some esteem of Mrs. Tom, as she called
the Polish woman, saying that at any rate she was a lady.

Anna Brangwen was faintly excited at the news of her Cousin
Will's coming to Ilkeston. She knew plenty of young men, but
they had never become real to her. She had seen in this young
gallant a nose she liked, in that a pleasant moustache, in the
other a nice way of wearing clothes, in one a ridiculous fringe
of hair, in another a comical way of talking. They were objects
of amusement and faint wonder to her, rather than real beings,
the young men.

The only man she knew was her father; and, as he was
something large, looming, a kind of Godhead, he embraced all
manhood for her, and other men were just incidental.

She remembered her cousin Will. He had town clothes and was
thin, with a very curious head, black as jet, with hair like
sleek, thin fur. It was a curious head: it reminded her she knew
not of what: of some animal, some mysterious animal that lived
in the darkness under the leaves and never came out, but which
lived vividly, swift and intense. She always thought of him with
that black, keen, blind head. And she considered him odd.

He appeared at the Marsh one Sunday morning: a rather long,
thin youth with a bright face and a curious self-possession
among his shyness, a native unawareness of what other people
might be, since he was himself.

When Anna came downstairs in her Sunday clothes, ready for
church, he rose and greeted her conventionally, shaking hands.
His manners were better than hers. She flushed. She noticed that
he now had a thick fledge on his upper lip, a black,
finely-shapen line marking his wide mouth. It rather repelled
her. It reminded her of the thin, fine fur of his hair. She was
aware of something strange in him.

His voice had rather high upper notes, and very resonant
middle notes. It was queer. She wondered why he did it. But he
sat very naturally in the Marsh living-room. He had some
uncouthness, some natural self-possession of the Brangwens, that
made him at home there.

Anna was rather troubled by the strangely intimate,
affectionate way her father had towards this young man. He
seemed gentle towards him, he put himself aside in order to fill
out the young man. This irritated Anna.

"Father," she said abruptly, "give me some collection."

"What collection?" asked Brangwen.

"Don't be ridiculous," she cried, flushing.

"Nay," he said, "what collection's this?"

"You know it's the first Sunday of the month."

Anna stood confused. Why was he doing this, why was he making
her conspicuous before this stranger?

"I want some collection," she reasserted.

"So tha says," he replied indifferently, looking at her, then
turning again to this nephew.

She went forward, and thrust her hand into his breeches
pocket. He smoked steadily, making no resistance, talking to his
nephew. Her hand groped about in his pocket, and then drew out
his leathern purse. Her colour was bright in her clear cheeks,
her eyes shone. Brangwen's eyes were twinkling. The nephew sat
sheepishly. Anna, in her finery, sat down and slid all the money
into her lap. There was silver and gold. The youth could not
help watching her. She was bent over the heap of money,
fingering the different coins.

"I've a good mind to take half a sovereign," she said, and
she looked up with glowing dark eyes. She met the light-brown
eyes of her cousin, close and intent upon her. She was startled.
She laughed quickly, and turned to her father.

"I've a good mind to take half a sovereign, our Dad," she
said.

"Yes, nimble fingers," said her father. "You take what's your
own."

"Are you coming, our Anna?" asked her brother from the
door.

She suddenly chilled to normal, forgetting both her father
and her cousin.

"Yes, I'm ready," she said, taking sixpence from the heap of
money and sliding the rest back into the purse, which she laid
on the table.

"Give it here," said her father.

Hastily she thrust the purse into his pocket and was going
out.

"You'd better go wi' 'em, lad, hadn't you?" said the father
to the nephew.

Will Brangwen rose uncertainly. He had golden-brown, quick,
steady eyes, like a bird's, like a hawk's, which cannot look
afraid.

"Your Cousin Will 'll come with you," said the father.

Anna glanced at the strange youth again. She felt him waiting
there for her to notice him. He was hovering on the edge of her
consciousness, ready to come in. She did not want to look at
him. She was antagonistic to him.

She waited without speaking. Her cousin took his hat and
joined her. It was summer outside. Her brother Fred was plucking
a sprig of flowery currant to put in his coat, from the bush at
the angle of the house. She took no notice. Her cousin followed
just behind her.

They were on the high road. She was aware of a strangeness in
her being. It made her uncertain. She caught sight of the
flowering currant in her brother's buttonhole.

"Oh, our Fred," she cried. "Don't wear that stuff to go to
church."

Fred looked down protectively at the pink adornment on his
breast.

"Why, I like it," he said.

"Then you're the only one who does, I'm sure," she said.

And she turned to her cousin.

"Do you like the smell of it?" she asked.

He was there beside her, tall and uncouth and yet
self-possessed. It excited her.

"I can't say whether I do or not," he replied.

"Give it here, Fred, don't have it smelling in church," she
said to the little boy, her page.

Her fair, small brother handed her the flower dutifully. She
sniffed it and gave it without a word to her cousin, for his
judgment. He smelled the dangling flower curiously.

"It's a funny smell," he said.

And suddenly she laughed, and a quick light came on all their
faces, there was a blithe trip in the small boy's walk.

The bells were ringing, they were going up the summery hill
in their Sunday clothes. Anna was very fine in a silk frock of
brown and white stripes, tight along the arms and the body,
bunched up very elegantly behind the skirt. There was something
of the cavalier about Will Brangwen, and he was well
dressed.

He walked along with the sprig of currant-blossom dangling
between his fingers, and none of them spoke. The sun shone
brightly on little showers of buttercup down the bank, in the
fields the fool's-parsley was foamy, held very high and proud
above a number of flowers that flitted in the greenish twilight
of the mowing-grass below.

They reached the church. Fred led the way to the pew,
followed by the cousin, then Anna. She felt very conspicuous and
important. Somehow, this young man gave her away to other
people. He stood aside and let her pass to her place, then sat
next to her. It was a curious sensation, to sit next to him.

The colour came streaming from the painted window above her.
It lit on the dark wood of the pew, on the stone, worn aisle, on
the pillar behind her cousin, and on her cousin's hands, as they
lay on his knees. She sat amid illumination, illumination and
luminous shadow all around her, her soul very bright. She sat,
without knowing it, conscious of the hands and motionless knees
of her cousin. Something strange had entered into her world,
something entirely strange and unlike what she knew.

She was curiously elated. She sat in a glowing world of
unreality, very delightful. A brooding light, like laughter, was
in her eyes. She was aware of a strange influence entering in to
her, which she enjoyed. It was a dark enrichening influence she
had not known before. She did not think of her cousin. But she
was startled when his hands moved.

She wished he would not say the responses so plainly. It
diverted her from her vague enjoyment. Why would he obtrude, and
draw notice to himself? It was bad taste. But she went on all
right till the hymn came. He stood up beside her to sing, and
that pleased her. Then suddenly, at the very first word, his
voice came strong and over-riding, filling the church. He was
singing the tenor. Her soul opened in amazement. His voice
filled the church! It rang out like a trumpet, and rang out
again. She started to giggle over her hymn-book. But he went on,
perfectly steady. Up and down rang his voice, going its own way.
She was helplessly shocked into laughter. Between moments of
dead silence in herself she shook with laughter. On came the
laughter, seized her and shook her till the tears were in her
eyes. She was amazed, and rather enjoyed it. And still the hymn
rolled on, and still she laughed. She bent over her hymn-book
crimson with confusion, but still her sides shook with laughter.
She pretended to cough, she pretended to have a crumb in her
throat. Fred was gazing up at her with clear blue eyes. She was
recovering herself. And then a slur in the strong, blind voice
at her side brought it all on again, in a gust of mad
laughter.

She bent down to prayer in cold reproof of herself. And yet,
as she knelt, little eddies of giggling went over her. The very
sight of his knees on the praying cushion sent the little shock
of laughter over her.

She gathered herself together and sat with prim, pure face,
white and pink and cold as a Christmas rose, her hands in her
silk gloves folded on her lap, her dark eyes all vague,
abstracted in a sort of dream, oblivious of everything.

The sermon rolled on vaguely, in a tide of pregnant
peace.

Her cousin took out his pocket-handkerchief. He seemed to be
drifted absorbed into the sermon. He put his handkerchief to his
face. Then something dropped on to his knee. There lay the bit
of flowering currant! He was looking down at it in real
astonishment. A wild snort of laughter came from Anna. Everybody
heard: it was torture. He had shut the crumpled flower in his
hand and was looking up again with the same absorbed attention
to the sermon. Another snort of laughter from Anna. Fred nudged
her remindingly.

Her cousin sat motionless. Somehow he was aware that his face
was red. She could feel him. His hand, closed over the flower,
remained quite still, pretending to be normal. Another wild
struggle in Anna's breast, and the snort of laughter. She bent
forward shaking with laughter. It was now no joke. Fred was
nudge-nudging at her. She nudged him back fiercely. Then another
vicious spasm of laughter seized her. She tried to ward it off
in a little cough. The cough ended in a suppressed whoop. She
wanted to die. And the closed hand crept away to the pocket.
Whilst she sat in taut suspense, the laughter rushed back at
her, knowing he was fumbling in his pocket to shove the flower
away.

In the end, she felt weak, exhausted and thoroughly
depressed. A blankness of wincing depression came over her. She
hated the presence of the other people. Her face became quite
haughty. She was unaware of her cousin any more.

When the collection arrived with the last hymn, her cousin
was again singing resoundingly. And still it amused her. In
spite of the shameful exhibition she had made of herself, it
amused her still. She listened to it in a spell of amusement.
And the bag was thrust in front of her, and her sixpence was
mingled in the folds of her glove. In her haste to get it out,
it flipped away and went twinkling in the next pew. She stood
and giggled. She could not help it: she laughed outright, a
figure of shame.

"What were you laughing about, our Anna?" asked Fred, the
moment they were out of the church.

"Oh, I couldn't help it," she said, in her careless,
half-mocking fashion. "I don't know why Cousin Will's
singing set me off."

"What was there in my singing to make you laugh?" he
asked.

"It was so loud," she said.

They did not look at each other, but they both laughed again,
both reddening.

"What were you snorting and laughing for, our Anna?" asked
Tom, the elder brother, at the dinner table, his hazel eyes
bright with joy. "Everybody stopped to look at you." Tom was in
the choir.

She was aware of Will's eyes shining steadily upon her,
waiting for her to speak.

"It was Cousin Will's singing," she said.

At which her cousin burst into a suppressed, chuckling laugh,
suddenly showing all his small, regular, rather sharp teeth, and
just as quickly closing his mouth again.

"Has he got such a remarkable voice on him then?" asked
Brangwen.

"No, it's not that," said Anna. "Only it tickled me—I
couldn't tell you why."

And again a ripple of laughter went down the table.

Will Brangwen thrust forward his dark face, his eyes dancing,
and said:

"I'm in the choir of St. Nicholas."

"Oh, you go to church then!" said Brangwen.

"Mother does—father doesn't," replied the youth.

It was the little things, his movement, the funny tones of
his voice, that showed up big to Anna. The matter-of-fact things
he said were absurd in contrast. The things her father said
seemed meaningless and neutral.

During the afternoon they sat in the parlour, that smelled of
geranium, and they ate cherries, and talked. Will Brangwen was
called on to give himself forth. And soon he was drawn out.

He was interested in churches, in church architecture. The
influence of Ruskin had stimulated him to a pleasure in the
medieval forms. His talk was fragmentary, he was only half
articulate. But listening to him, as he spoke of church after
church, of nave and chancel and transept, of rood-screen and
font, of hatchet-carving and moulding and tracery, speaking
always with close passion of particular things, particular
places, there gathered in her heart a pregnant hush of churches,
a mystery, a ponderous significance of bowed stone, a
dim-coloured light through which something took place obscurely,
passing into darkness: a high, delighted framework of the mystic
screen, and beyond, in the furthest beyond, the altar. It was a
very real experience. She was carried away. And the land seemed
to be covered with a vast, mystic church, reserved in gloom,
thrilled with an unknown Presence.

Almost it hurt her, to look out of the window and see the
lilacs towering in the vivid sunshine. Or was this the jewelled
glass?

He talked of Gothic and Renaissance and Perpendicular, and
Early English and Norman. The words thrilled her.

"Have you been to Southwell?" he said. "I was there at twelve
o'clock at midday, eating my lunch in the churchyard. And the
bells played a hymn.

"Ay, it's a fine Minster, Southwell, heavy. It's got heavy,
round arches, rather low, on thick pillars. It's grand, the way
those arches travel forward.

"There's a sedilia as well—pretty. But I like the main
body of the church—and that north porch—"

He was very much excited and filled with himself that
afternoon. A flame kindled round him, making his experience
passionate and glowing, burningly real.

His uncle listened with twinkling eyes, half-moved. His aunt
bent forward her dark face, half-moved, but held by other
knowledge. Anna went with him.

He returned to his lodging at night treading quick, his eyes
glittering, and his face shining darkly as if he came from some
passionate, vital tryst.

The glow remained in him, the fire burned, his heart was
fierce like a sun. He enjoyed his unknown life and his own self.
And he was ready to go back to the Marsh.

Without knowing it, Anna was wanting him to come. In him she
had escaped. In him the bounds of her experience were
transgressed: he was the hole in the wall, beyond which the
sunshine blazed on an outside world.

He came. Sometimes, not often, but sometimes, talking again,
there recurred the strange, remote reality which carried
everything before it. Sometimes, he talked of his father, whom
he hated with a hatred that was burningly close to love, of his
mother, whom he loved, with a love that was keenly close to
hatred, or to revolt. His sentences were clumsy, he was only
half articulate. But he had the wonderful voice, that could ring
its vibration through the girl's soul, transport her into his
feeling. Sometimes his voice was hot and declamatory, sometimes
it had a strange, twanging, almost cat-like sound, sometimes it
hesitated, puzzled, sometimes there was the break of a little
laugh. Anna was taken by him. She loved the running flame that
coursed through her as she listened to him. And his mother and
his father became to her two separate people in her life.

For some weeks the youth came frequently, and was received
gladly by them all. He sat amongst them, his dark face glowing,
an eagerness and a touch of derisiveness on his wide mouth,
something grinning and twisted, his eyes always shining like a
bird's, utterly without depth. There was no getting hold of the
fellow, Brangwen irritably thought. He was like a grinning young
tom-cat, that came when he thought he would, and without
cognizance of the other person.

At first the youth had looked towards Tom Brangwen when he
talked; and then he looked towards his aunt, for her
appreciation, valuing it more than his uncle's; and then he
turned to Anna, because from her he got what he wanted, which
was not in the elder people.

So that the two young people, from being always attendant on
the elder, began to draw apart and establish a separate kingdom.
Sometimes Tom Brangwen was irritated. His nephew irritated him.
The lad seemed to him too special, self-contained. His nature
was fierce enough, but too much abstracted, like a separate
thing, like a cat's nature. A cat could lie perfectly peacefully
on the hearthrug whilst its master or mistress writhed in agony
a yard away. It had nothing to do with other people's affairs.
What did the lad really care about anything, save his own
instinctive affairs?

Brangwen was irritated. Nevertheless he liked and respected
his nephew. Mrs. Brangwen was irritated by Anna, who was
suddenly changed, under the influence of the youth. The mother
liked the boy: he was not quite an outsider. But she did not
like her daughter to be so much under the spell.

So that gradually the two young people drew apart, escaped
from the elders, to create a new thing by themselves. He worked
in the garden to propitiate his uncle. He talked churches to
propitiate his aunt. He followed Anna like a shadow: like a
long, persistent, unswerving black shadow he went after the
girl. It irritated Brangwen exceedingly. It exasperated him
beyond bearing, to see the lit-up grin, the cat-grin as he
called it, on his nephew's face.

And Anna had a new reserve, a new independence. Suddenly she
began to act independently of her parents, to live beyond them.
Her mother had flashes of anger.

But the courtship went on. Anna would find occasion to go
shopping in Ilkeston at evening. She always returned with her
cousin; he walking with his head over her shoulder, a little bit
behind her, like the Devil looking over Lincoln, as Brangwen
noted angrily and yet with satisfaction.

To his own wonder, Will Brangwen found himself in an electric
state of passion. To his wonder, he had stopped her at the gate
as they came home from Ilkeston one night, and had kissed her,
blocking her way and kissing her whilst he felt as if some blow
were struck at him in the dark. And when they went indoors, he
was acutely angry that her parents looked up scrutinizing at him
and her. What right had they there: why should they look up! Let
them remove themselves, or look elsewhere.

And the youth went home with the stars in heaven whirling
fiercely about the blackness of his head, and his heart fierce,
insistent, but fierce as if he felt something baulking him. He
wanted to smash through something.

A spell was cast over her. And how uneasy her parents were,
as she went about the house unnoticing, not noticing them,
moving in a spell as if she were invisible to them. She was
invisible to them. It made them angry. Yet they had to submit.
She went about absorbed, obscured for a while.

Over him too the darkness of obscurity settled. He seemed to
be hidden in a tense, electric darkness, in which his soul, his
life was intensely active, but without his aid or attention. His
mind was obscured. He worked swiftly and mechanically, and he
produced some beautiful things.

His favourite work was wood-carving. The first thing he made
for her was a butter-stamper. In it he carved a mythological
bird, a phoenix, something like an eagle, rising on symmetrical
wings, from a circle of very beautiful flickering flames that
rose upwards from the rim of the cup.

Anna thought nothing of the gift on the evening when he gave
it to her. In the morning, however, when the butter was made,
she fetched his seal in place of the old wooden stamper of
oak-leaves and acorns. She was curiously excited to see how it
would turn out. Strange, the uncouth bird moulded there, in the
cup-like hollow, with curious, thick waverings running inwards
from a smooth rim. She pressed another mould. Strange, to lift
the stamp and see that eagle-beaked bird raising its breast to
her. She loved creating it over and over again. And every time
she looked, it seemed a new thing come to life. Every piece of
butter became this strange, vital emblem.

She showed it to her mother and father.

"That is beautiful," said her mother, a little light coming
on to her face.

"Beautiful!" exclaimed the father, puzzled, fretted. "Why,
what sort of a bird does he call it?"

And this was the question put by the customers during the
next weeks.

"What sort of a bird do you call that, as you've got
on th' butter?"

When he came in the evening, she took him into the dairy to
show him.

"Do you like it?" he asked, in his loud, vibrating voice that
always sounded strange, re-echoing in the dark places of her
being.

They very rarely touched each other. They liked to be alone
together, near to each other, but there was still a distance
between them.

In the cool dairy the candle-light lit on the large, white
surfaces of the cream pans. He turned his head sharply. It was
so cool and remote in there, so remote. His mouth was open in a
little, strained laugh. She stood with her head bent, turned
aside. He wanted to go near to her. He had kissed her once.
Again his eye rested on the round blocks of butter, where the
emblematic bird lifted its breast from the shadow cast by the
candle flame. What was restraining him? Her breast was near him;
his head lifted like an eagle's. She did not move. Suddenly,
with an incredibly quick, delicate movement, he put his arms
round her and drew her to him. It was quick, cleanly done, like
a bird that swoops and sinks close, closer.

He was kissing her throat. She turned and looked at him. Her
eyes were dark and flowing with fire. His eyes were hard and
bright with a fierce purpose and gladness, like a hawk's. She
felt him flying into the dark space of her flames, like a brand,
like a gleaming hawk.

They had looked at each other, and seen each other strange,
yet near, very near, like a hawk stooping, swooping, dropping
into a flame of darkness. So she took the candle and they went
back to the kitchen.

They went on in this way for some time, always coming
together, but rarely touching, very seldom did they kiss. And
then, often, it was merely a touch of the lips, a sign. But her
eyes began to waken with a constant fire, she paused often in
the midst of her transit, as if to recollect something, or to
discover something.

And his face became sombre, intent, he did not really hear
what was said to him.

One evening in August he came when it was raining. He came in
with his jacket collar turned up, his jacket buttoned close, his
face wet. And he looked so slim and definite, coming out of the
chill rain, she was suddenly blinded with love for him. Yet he
sat and talked with her father and mother, meaninglessly, whilst
her blood seethed to anguish in her. She wanted to touch him
now, only to touch him.

There was the queer, abstract look on her silvery radiant
face that maddened her father, her dark eyes were hidden. But
she raised them to the youth. And they were dark with a flare
that made him quail for a moment.

She went into the second kitchen and took a lantern. Her
father watched her as she returned.

"Come with me, Will," she said to her cousin. "I want to see
if I put the brick over where that rat comes in."

"You've no need to do that," retorted her father. She took no
notice. The youth was between the two wills. The colour mounted
into the father's face, his blue eyes stared. The girl stood
near the door, her head held slightly back, like an indication
that the youth must come. He rose, in his silent, intent way,
and was gone with her. The blood swelled in Brangwen's forehead
veins.

It was raining. The light of the lantern flashed on the
cobbled path and the bottom of the wall. She came to a small
ladder, and climbed up. He reached her the lantern, and
followed. Up there in the fowl-loft, the birds sat in fat
bunches on the perches, the red combs shining like fire. Bright,
sharp eyes opened. There was a sharp crawk of expostulation as
one of the hens shifted over. The cock sat watching, his yellow
neck-feathers bright as glass. Anna went across the dirty floor.
Brangwen crouched in the loft watching. The light was soft under
the red, naked tiles. The girl crouched in a corner. There was
another explosive bustle of a hen springing from her perch.

Anna came back, stooping under the perches. He was waiting
for her near the door. Suddenly she had her arms round him, was
clinging close to him, cleaving her body against his, and
crying, in a whispering, whimpering sound.

"Will, I love you, I love you, Will, I love you." It sounded
as if it were tearing her.

He was not even very much surprised. He held her in his arms,
and his bones melted. He leaned back against the wall. The door
of the loft was open. Outside, the rain slanted by in fine,
steely, mysterious haste, emerging out of the gulf of darkness.
He held her in his arms, and he and she together seemed to be
swinging in big, swooping oscillations, the two of them clasped
together up in the darkness. Outside the open door of the loft
in which they stood, beyond them and below them, was darkness,
with a travelling veil of rain.

"I love you, Will, I love you," she moaned, "I love you,
Will."

He held her as thought they were one, and was silent.

In the house, Tom Brangwen waited a while. Then he got up and
went out. He went down the yard. He saw the curious misty shaft
coming from the loft door. He scarcely knew it was the light in
the rain. He went on till the illumination fell on him dimly.
Then looking up, through the blurr, he saw the youth and the
girl together, the youth with his back against the wall, his
head sunk over the head of the girl. The elder man saw them,
blurred through the rain, but lit up. They thought themselves so
buried in the night. He even saw the lighted dryness of the loft
behind, and shadows and bunches of roosting fowls, up in the
night, strange shadows cast from the lantern on the floor.

And a black gloom of anger, and a tenderness of
self-effacement, fought in his heart. She did not understand
what she was doing. She betrayed herself. She was a child, a
mere child. She did not know how much of herself she was
squandering. And he was blackly and furiously miserable. Was he
then an old man, that he should be giving her away in marriage?
Was he old? He was not old. He was younger than that young
thoughtless fellow in whose arms she lay. Who knew her—he
or that blind-headed youth? To whom did she belong, if not to
himself?

He thought again of the child he had carried out at night
into the barn, whilst his wife was in labour with the young Tom.
He remembered the soft, warm weight of the little girl on his
arm, round his neck. Now she would say he was finished. She was
going away, to deny him, to leave an unendurable emptiness in
him, a void that he could not bear. Almost he hated her. How
dared she say he was old. He walked on in the rain, sweating
with pain, with the horror of being old, with the agony of
having to relinquish what was life to him.

Will Brangwen went home without having seen his uncle. He
held his hot face to the rain, and walked on in a trance. "I
love you, Will, I love you." The words repeated themselves
endlessly. The veils had ripped and issued him naked into the
endless space, and he shuddered. The walls had thrust him out
and given him a vast space to walk in. Whither, through this
darkness of infinite space, was he walking blindly? Where, at
the end of all the darkness, was God the Almighty still darkly,
seated, thrusting him on? "I love you, Will, I love you." He
trembled with fear as the words beat in his heart again. And he
dared not think of her face, of her eyes which shone, and of her
strange, transfigured face. The hand of the Hidden Almighty,
burning bright, had thrust out of the darkness and gripped him.
He went on subject and in fear, his heart gripped and burning
from the touch.

The days went by, they ran on dark-padded feet in silence. He
went to see Anna, but again there had come a reserve between
them. Tom Brangwen was gloomy, his blue eyes sombre. Anna was
strange and delivered up. Her face in its delicate colouring was
mute, touched dumb and poignant. The mother bowed her head and
moved in her own dark world, that was pregnant again with
fulfilment.

Will Brangwen worked at his wood-carving. It was a passion, a
passion for him to have the chisel under his grip. Verily the
passion of his heart lifted the fine bite of steel. He was
carving, as he had always wanted, the Creation of Eve. It was a
panel in low relief, for a church. Adam lay asleep as if
suffering, and God, a dim, large figure, stooped towards him,
stretching forward His unveiled hand; and Eve, a small vivid,
naked female shape, was issuing like a flame towards the hand of
God, from the torn side of Adam.

Now, Will Brangwen was working at the Eve. She was thin, a
keen, unripe thing. With trembling passion, fine as a breath of
air, he sent the chisel over her belly, her hard, unripe, small
belly. She was a stiff little figure, with sharp lines, in the
throes and torture and ecstasy of her creation. But he trembled
as he touched her. He had not finished any of his figures. There
was a bird on a bough overhead, lifting its wings for flight,
and a serpent wreathing up to it. It was not finished yet. He
trembled with passion, at last able to create the new, sharp
body of his Eve.

At the sides, at the far sides, at either end, were two
Angels covering their faces with their wings. They were like
trees. As he went to the Marsh, in the twilight, he felt that
the Angels, with covered faces, were standing back as he went
by. The darkness was of their shadows and the covering of their
faces. When he went through the Canal bridge, the evening glowed
in its last deep colours, the sky was dark blue, the stars
glittered from afar, very remote and approaching above the
darkening cluster of the farm, above the paths of crystal along
the edge of the heavens.

She waited for him like the glow of light, and as if his face
were covered. And he dared not lift his face to look at her.

Corn harvest came on. One evening they walked out through the
farm buildings at nightfall. A large gold moon hung heavily to
the grey horizon, trees hovered tall, standing back in the dusk,
waiting. Anna and the young man went on noiselessly by the
hedge, along where the farm-carts had made dark ruts in the
grass. They came through a gate into a wide open field where
still much light seemed to spread against their faces. In the
under-shadow the sheaves lay on the ground where the reapers had
left them, many sheaves like bodies prostrate in shadowy bulk;
others were riding hazily in shocks, like ships in the haze of
moonlight and of dusk, farther off.

They did not want to turn back, yet whither were they to go,
towards the moon? For they were separate, single.

"We will put up some sheaves," said Anna. So they could
remain there in the broad, open place.

They went across the stubble to where the long rows of
upreared shocks ended. Curiously populous that part of the field
looked, where the shocks rode erect; the rest was open and
prostrate.

The air was all hoary silver. She looked around her. Trees
stood vaguely at their distance, as if waiting like heralds, for
the signal to approach. In this space of vague crystal her heart
seemed like a bell ringing. She was afraid lest the sound should
be heard.

"You take this row," she said to the youth, and passing on,
she stooped in the next row of lying sheaves, grasping her hands
in the tresses of the oats, lifting the heavy corn in either
hand, carrying it, as it hung heavily against her, to the
cleared space, where she set the two sheaves sharply down,
bringing them together with a faint, keen clash. Her two bulks
stood leaning together. He was coming, walking shadowily with
the gossamer dusk, carrying his two sheaves. She waited near-by.
He set his sheaves with a keen, faint clash, next to her
sheaves. They rode unsteadily. He tangled the tresses of corn.
It hissed like a fountain. He looked up and laughed.

Then she turned away towards the moon, which seemed glowingly
to uncover her bosom every time she faced it. He went to the
vague emptiness of the field opposite, dutifully.

They stooped, grasped the wet, soft hair of the corn, lifted
the heavy bundles, and returned. She was always first. She set
down her sheaves, making a pent-house with those others. He was
coming shadowy across the stubble, carrying his bundles, She
turned away, hearing only the sharp hiss of his mingling corn.
She walked between the moon and his shadowy figure.

She took her two new sheaves and walked towards him, as he
rose from stooping over the earth. He was coming out of the near
distance. She set down her sheaves to make a new stook. They
were unsure. Her hands fluttered. Yet she broke away, and turned
to the moon, which laid bare her bosom, so she felt as if her
bosom were heaving and panting with moonlight. And he had to put
up her two sheaves, which had fallen down. He worked in silence.
The rhythm of the work carried him away again, as she was coming
near.

They worked together, coming and going, in a rhythm, which
carried their feet and their bodies in tune. She stooped, she
lifted the burden of sheaves, she turned her face to the dimness
where he was, and went with her burden over the stubble. She
hesitated, set down her sheaves, there was a swish and hiss of
mingling oats, he was drawing near, and she must turn again. And
there was the flaring moon laying bare her bosom again, making
her drift and ebb like a wave.

He worked steadily, engrossed, threading backwards and
forwards like a shuttle across the strip of cleared stubble,
weaving the long line of riding shocks, nearer and nearer to the
shadowy trees, threading his sheaves with hers.

And always, she was gone before he came. As he came, she drew
away, as he drew away, she came. Were they never to meet?
Gradually a low, deep-sounding will in him vibrated to her,
tried to set her in accord, tried to bring her gradually to him,
to a meeting, till they should be together, till they should
meet as the sheaves that swished together.

And the work went on. The moon grew brighter, clearer, the
corn glistened. He bent over the prostrate bundles, there was a
hiss as the sheaves left the ground, a trailing of heavy bodies
against him, a dazzle of moonlight on his eyes. And then he was
setting the corn together at the stook. And she was coming
near.

He waited for her, he fumbled at the stook. She came. But she
stood back till he drew away. He saw her in shadow, a dark
column, and spoke to her, and she answered. She saw the
moonlight flash question on his face. But there was a space
between them, and he went away, the work carried them,
rhythmic.

Why was there always a space between them, why were they
apart? Why, as she came up from under the moon, would she halt
and stand off from him? Why was he held away from her? His will
drummed persistently, darkly, it drowned everything else.

Into the rhythm of his work there came a pulse and a steadied
purpose. He stooped, he lifted the weight, he heaved it towards
her, setting it as in her, under the moonlit space. And he went
back for more. Ever with increasing closeness he lifted the
sheaves and swung striding to the centre with them, ever he
drove her more nearly to the meeting, ever he did his share, and
drew towards her, overtaking her. There was only the moving to
and fro in the moonlight, engrossed, the swinging in the
silence, that was marked only by the splash of sheaves, and
silence, and a splash of sheaves. And ever the splash of his
sheaves broke swifter, beating up to hers, and ever the splash
of her sheaves recurred monotonously, unchanging, and ever the
splash of his sheaves beat nearer.

Till at last, they met at the shock, facing each other,
sheaves in hand. And he was silvery with moonlight, with a
moonlit, shadowy face that frightened her. She waited for
him.

"Put yours down," she said.

"No, it's your turn." His voice was twanging and
insistent.

She set her sheaves against the shock. He saw her hands
glisten among the spray of grain. And he dropped his sheaves and
he trembled as he took her in his arms. He had over-taken her,
and it was his privilege to kiss her. She was sweet and fresh
with the night air, and sweet with the scent of grain. And the
whole rhythm of him beat into his kisses, and still he pursued
her, in his kisses, and still she was not quite overcome. He
wondered over the moonlight on her nose! All the moonlight upon
her, all the darkness within her! All the night in his arms,
darkness and shine, he possessed of it all! All the night for
him now, to unfold, to venture within, all the mystery to be
entered, all the discovery to be made.

Trembling with keen triumph, his heart was white as a star as
he drove his kisses nearer.

"My love!" she called, in a low voice, from afar. The low
sound seemed to call to him from far off, under the moon, to him
who was unaware. He stopped, quivered, and listened.

"My love," came again the low, plaintive call, like a bird
unseen in the night.

He was afraid. His heart quivered and broke. He was
stopped.

"Anna," he said, as if he answered her from a distance,
unsure.

"My love."

And he drew near, and she drew near.

"Anna," he said, in wonder and the birthpain of love.

"My love," she said, her voice growing rapturous. And they
kissed on the mouth, in rapture and surprise, long, real kisses.
The kiss lasted, there among the moonlight. He kissed her again,
and she kissed him. And again they were kissing together. Till
something happened in him, he was strange. He wanted her. He
wanted her exceedingly. She was something new. They stood there
folded, suspended in the night. And his whole being quivered
with surprise, as from a blow. He wanted her, and he wanted to
tell her so. But the shock was too great to him. He had never
realized before. He trembled with irritation and unusedness, he
did not know what to do. He held her more gently, gently, much
more gently. The conflict was gone by. And he was glad, and
breathless, and almost in tears. But he knew he wanted her.
Something fixed in him for ever. He was hers. And he was very
glad and afraid. He did not know what to do, as they stood there
in the open, moonlit field. He looked through her hair at the
moon, which seemed to swim liquid-bright.

She sighed, and seemed to wake up, then she kissed him again.
Then she loosened herself away from him and took his hand. It
hurt him when she drew away from his breast. It hurt him with a
chagrin. Why did she draw away from him? But she held his
hand.

"I want to go home," she said, looking at him in a way he
could not understand.

He held close to her hand. He was dazed and he could not
move, he did not know how to move. She drew him away.

He walked helplessly beside her, holding her hand. She went
with bent head. Suddenly he said, as the simple solution stated
itself to him:

"We'll get married, Anna."

She was silent.

"We'll get married, Anna, shall we?"

She stopped in the field again and kissed him, clinging to
him passionately, in a way he could not understand. He could not
understand. But he left it all now, to marriage. That was the
solution now, fixed ahead. He wanted her, he wanted to be
married to her, he wanted to have her altogether, as his own for
ever. And he waited, intent, for the accomplishment. But there
was all the while a slight tension of irritation.

He spoke to his uncle and aunt that night.

"Uncle," he said, "Anna and me think of getting married."

"Oh ay!" said Brangwen.

"But how, you have no money?" said the mother.

The youth went pale. He hated these words. But he was like a
gleaming, bright pebble, something bright and inalterable. He
did not think. He sat there in his hard brightness, and did not
speak.

"Have you mentioned it to your own mother?" asked
Brangwen.

"No—I'll tell her on Saturday."

"You'll go and see her?"

"Yes."

There was a long pause.

"And what are you going to marry on—your pound a
week?"

Again the youth went pale, as if the spirit were being
injured in him.

"I don't know," he said, looking at his uncle with his bright
inhuman eyes, like a hawk's.

Brangwen stirred in hatred.

"It needs knowing," he said.

"I shall have the money later on," said the nephew. "I will
raise some now, and pay it back then."

"Oh ay!—And why this desperate hurry? She's a child of
eighteen, and you're a boy of twenty. You're neither of you of
age to do as you like yet."

Will Brangwen ducked his head and looked at his uncle with
swift, mistrustful eyes, like a caged hawk.

"What does it matter how old she is, and how old I am?" he
said. "What's the difference between me now and when I'm
thirty?"

"A big difference, let us hope."

"But you have no experience—you have no experience, and
no money. Why do you want to marry, without experience or
money?" asked the aunt.

"What experience do I want, Aunt?" asked the boy.

And if Brangwen's heart had not been hard and intact with
anger, like a precious stone, he would have agreed.

Will Brangwen went home strange and untouched. He felt he
could not alter from what he was fixed upon, his will was set.
To alter it he must be destroyed. And he would not be destroyed.
He had no money. But he would get some from somewhere, it did
not matter. He lay awake for many hours, hard and clear and
unthinking, his soul crystallizing more inalterably. Then he
went fast asleep.

It was as if his soul had turned into a hard crystal. He
might tremble and quiver and suffer, it did not alter.

The next morning Tom Brangwen, inhuman with anger spoke to
Anna.

"What's this about wanting to get married?" he said.

She stood, paling a little, her dark eyes springing to the
hostile, startled look of a savage thing that will defend
itself, but trembles with sensitiveness.

"I do," she said, out of her unconsciousness.

His anger rose, and he would have liked to break her.

"You do-you do-and what for?" he sneered with contempt. The
old, childish agony, the blindness that could recognize nobody,
the palpitating antagonism as of a raw, helpless, undefended
thing came back on her.

"I do because I do," she cried, in the shrill, hysterical way
of her childhood. "You are not my father—my father
is dead—you are not my father."

She was still a stranger. She did not recognize him. The cold
blade cut down, deep into Brangwen's soul. It cut him off from
her.

"And what if I'm not?" he said.

But he could not bear it. It had been so passionately dear to
him, her "Father—Daddie."

He went about for some days as if stunned. His wife was
bemused. She did not understand. She only thought the marriage
was impeded for want of money and position.

There was a horrible silence in the house. Anna kept out of
sight as much as possible. She could be for hours alone.

Will Brangwen came back, after stupid scenes at Nottingham.
He too was pale and blank, but unchanging. His uncle hated him.
He hated this youth, who was so inhuman and obstinate.
Nevertheless, it was to Will Brangwen that the uncle, one
evening, handed over the shares which he had transferred to Anna
Lensky. They were for two thousand five hundred pounds. Will
Brangwen looked at his uncle. It was a great deal of the Marsh
capital here given away. The youth, however, was only colder and
more fixed. He was abstract, purely a fixed will. He gave the
shares to Anna.

After which she cried for a whole day, sobbing her eyes out.
And at night, when she had heard her mother go to bed, she
slipped down and hung in the doorway. Her father sat in his
heavy silence, like a monument. He turned his head slowly.

"Daddy," she cried from the doorway, and she ran to him
sobbing as if her heart would break.
"Daddy—daddy—daddy."

She crouched on the hearthrug with her arms round him and her
face against him. His body was so big and comfortable. But
something hurt her head intolerably. She sobbed almost with
hysteria.

He was silent, with his hand on her shoulder. His heart was
bleak. He was not her father. That beloved image she had broken.
Who was he then? A man put apart with those whose life has no
more developments. He was isolated from her. There was a
generation between them, he was old, he had died out from hot
life. A great deal of ash was in his fire, cold ash. He felt the
inevitable coldness, and in bitterness forgot the fire. He sat
in his coldness of age and isolation. He had his own wife. And
he blamed himself, he sneered at himself, for this clinging to
the young, wanting the young to belong to him.

The child who clung to him wanted her child-husband. As was
natural. And from him, Brangwen, she wanted help, so that her
life might be properly fitted out. But love she did not want.
Why should there be love between them, between the stout,
middle-aged man and this child? How could there be anything
between them, but mere human willingness to help each other? He
was her guardian, no more. His heart was like ice, his face cold
and expressionless. She could not move him any more than a
statue.

She crept to bed, and cried. But she was going to be married
to Will Brangwen, and then she need not bother any more.
Brangwen went to bed with a hard, cold heart, and cursed
himself. He looked at his wife. She was still his wife. Her dark
hair was threaded with grey, her face was beautiful in its
gathering age. She was just fifty. How poignantly he saw her!
And he wanted to cut out some of his own heart, which was
incontinent, and demanded still to share the rapid life of
youth. How he hated himself.

His wife was so poignant and timely. She was still young and
naive, with some girl's freshness. But she did not want any more
the fight, the battle, the control, as he, in his incontinence,
still did. She was so natural, and he was ugly, unnatural, in
his inability to yield place. How hideous, this greedy
middle-age, which must stand in the way of life, like a large
demon.

What was missing in his life, that, in his ravening soul, he
was not satisfied? He had had that friend at school, his mother,
his wife, and Anna? What had he done? He had failed with his
friend, he had been a poor son; but he had known satisfaction
with his wife, let it be enough; he loathed himself for the
state he was in over Anna. Yet he was not satisfied. It was
agony to know it.

Was his life nothing? Had he nothing to show, no work? He did
not count his work, anybody could have done it. What had he
known, but the long, marital embrace with his wife! Curious,
that this was what his life amounted to! At any rate, it was
something, it was eternal. He would say so to anybody, and be
proud of it. He lay with his wife in his arms, and she was still
his fulfilment, just the same as ever. And that was the be-all
and the end-all. Yes, and he was proud of it.

But the bitterness, underneath, that there still remained an
unsatisfied Tom Brangwen, who suffered agony because a girl
cared nothing for him. He loved his sons—he had them also.
But it was the further, the creative life with the girl, he
wanted as well. Oh, and he was ashamed. He trampled himself to
extinguish himself.

What weariness! There was no peace, however old one grew! One
was never right, never decent, never master of oneself. It was
as if his hope had been in the girl.

Anna quickly lapsed again into her love for the youth. Will
Brangwen had fixed his marriage for the Saturday before
Christmas. And he waited for her, in his bright, unquestioning
fashion, until then. He wanted her, she was his, he suspended
his being till the day should come. The wedding day, December
the twenty-third, had come into being for him as an absolute
thing. He lived in it.

He did not count the days. But like a man who journeys in a
ship, he was suspended till the coming to port.

He worked at his carving, he worked in his office, he came to
see her; all was but a form of waiting, without thought or
question.

She was much more alive. She wanted to enjoy courtship. He
seemed to come and go like the wind, without asking why or
whither. But she wanted to enjoy his presence. For her, he was
the kernel of life, to touch him alone was bliss. But for him,
she was the essence of life. She existed as much when he was at
his carving in his lodging in Ilkeston, as when she sat looking
at him in the Marsh kitchen. In himself, he knew her. But his
outward faculties seemed suspended. He did not see her with his
eyes, nor hear her with his voice.

And yet he trembled, sometimes into a kind of swoon, holding
her in his arms. They would stand sometimes folded together in
the barn, in silence. Then to her, as she felt his young, tense
figure with her hands, the bliss was intolerable, intolerable
the sense that she possessed him. For his body was so keen and
wonderful, it was the only reality in her world. In her world,
there was this one tense, vivid body of a man, and then many
other shadowy men, all unreal. In him, she touched the centre of
reality. And they were together, he and she, at the heart of the
secret. How she clutched him to her, his body the central body
of all life. Out of the rock of his form the very fountain of
life flowed.

But to him, she was a flame that consumed him. The flame
flowed up his limbs, flowed through him, till he was consumed,
till he existed only as an unconscious, dark transit of flame,
deriving from her.

Sometimes, in the darkness, a cow coughed. There was, in the
darkness, a slow sound of cud chewing. And it all seemed to flow
round them and upon them as the hot blood flows through the
womb, laving the unborn young.

Sometimes, when it was cold, they stood to be lovers in the
stables, where the air was warm and sharp with ammonia. And
during these dark vigils, he learned to know her, her body
against his, they drew nearer and nearer together, the kisses
came more subtly close and fitting. So when in the thick
darkness a horse suddenly scrambled to its feet, with a dull,
thunderous sound, they listened as one person listening, they
knew as one person, they were conscious of the horse.

Tom Brangwen had taken them a cottage at Cossethay, on a
twenty-one years' lease. Will Brangwen's eyes lit up as he saw
it. It was the cottage next the church, with dark yew-trees,
very black old trees, along the side of the house and the grassy
front garden; a red, squarish cottage with a low slate roof, and
low windows. It had a long dairy-scullery, a big flagged
kitchen, and a low parlour, that went up one step from the
kitchen. There were whitewashed beams across the ceilings, and
odd corners with cupboards. Looking out through the windows,
there was the grassy garden, the procession of black yew trees
down one side, and along the other sides, a red wall with ivy
separating the place from the high-road and the churchyard. The
old, little church, with its small spire on a square tower,
seemed to be looking back at the cottage windows.

"There'll be no need to have a clock," said Will Brangwen,
peeping out at the white clock-face on the tower, his
neighbour.

At the back of the house was a garden adjoining the paddock,
a cowshed with standing for two cows, pig-cotes and fowl-houses.
Will Brangwen was very happy. Anna was glad to think of being
mistress of her own place.

Tom Brangwen was now the fairy godfather. He was never happy
unless he was buying something. Will Brangwen, with his interest
in all wood-work, was getting the furniture. He was left to buy
tables and round-staved chairs and the dressers, quite ordinary
stuff, but such as was identified with his cottage.

Tom Brangwen, with more particular thought, spied out what he
called handy little things for her. He appeared with a set of
new-fangled cooking-pans, with a special sort of hanging lamp,
though the rooms were so low, with canny little machines for
grinding meat or mashing potatoes or whisking eggs.

Anna took a sharp interest in what he bought, though she was
not always pleased. Some of the little contrivances, which he
thought so canny, left her doubtful. Nevertheless she was always
expectant, on market days there was always a long thrill of
anticipation. He arrived with the first darkness, the copper
lamps of his cart glowing. And she ran to the gate, as he, a
dark, burly figure up in the cart, was bending over his
parcels.

"It's cupboard love as brings you out so sharp," he said, his
voice resounding in the cold darkness. Nevertheless he was
excited. And she, taking one of the cart lamps, poked and peered
among the jumble of things he had brought, pushing aside the oil
or implements he had got for himself.

She dragged out a pair of small, strong bellows, registered
them in her mind, and then pulled uncertainly at something else.
It had a long handle, and a piece of brown paper round the
middle of it, like a waistcoat.

"What's this?" she said, poking.

He stopped to look at her. She went to the lamp-light by the
horse, and stood there bent over the new thing, while her hair
was like bronze, her apron white and cheerful. Her fingers
plucked busily at the paper. She dragged forth a little wringer,
with clean indiarubber rollers. She examined it critically, not
knowing quite how it worked.

She looked up at him. He stood a shadowy presence beyond the
light.

"How does it go?" she asked.

"Why, it's for pulpin' turnips," he replied.

She looked at him. His voice disturbed her.

"Don't be silly. It's a little mangle," she said. "How do you
stand it, though?"

"You screw it on th' side o' your wash-tub." He came and held
it out to her.

"Oh, yes!" she cried, with one of her little skipping
movements, which still came when she was suddenly glad.

And without another thought she ran off into the house,
leaving him to untackle the horse. And when he came into the
scullery, he found her there, with the little wringer fixed on
the dolly-tub, turning blissfully at the handle, and Tilly
beside her, exclaiming:

"My word, that's a natty little thing! That'll save you
luggin' your inside out. That's the latest contraption, that
is."

And Anna turned away at the handle, with great gusto of
possession. Then she let Tilly have a turn.

"It fair runs by itself," said Tilly, turning on and on.
"Your clothes'll nip out on to th' line."







CHAPTER V

WEDDING AT THE MARSH

It was a beautiful sunny day for the wedding, a muddy earth
but a bright sky. They had three cabs and two big closed-in
vehicles. Everybody crowded in the parlour in excitement. Anna
was still upstairs. Her father kept taking a nip of brandy. He
was handsome in his black coat and grey trousers. His voice was
hearty but troubled. His wife came down in dark grey silk with
lace, and a touch of peacock-blue in her bonnet. Her little body
was very sure and definite. Brangwen was thankful she was there,
to sustain him among all these people.

The carriages! The Nottingham Mrs. Brangwen, in silk brocade,
stands in the doorway saying who must go with whom. There is a
great bustle. The front door is opened, and the wedding guests
are walking down the garden path, whilst those still waiting
peer through the window, and the little crowd at the gate gorps
and stretches. How funny such dressed-up people look in the
winter sunshine!

They are gone—another lot! There begins to be more
room. Anna comes down blushing and very shy, to be viewed in her
white silk and her veil. Her mother-in-law surveys her
objectively, twitches the white train, arranges the folds of the
veil and asserts herself.

Loud exclamations from the window that the bridegroom's
carriage has just passed.

"Where's your hat, father, and your gloves?" cries the bride,
stamping her white slipper, her eyes flashing through her veil.
He hunts round—his hair is ruffled. Everybody has gone but
the bride and her father. He is ready—his face very red
and daunted. Tilly dithers in the little porch, waiting to open
the door. A waiting woman walks round Anna, who asks:

"Am I all right?"

She is ready. She bridles herself and looks queenly. She
waves her hand sharply to her father:

"Come here!"

He goes. She puts her hand very lightly on his arm, and
holding her bouquet like a shower, stepping, oh, very
graciously, just a little impatient with her father for being so
red in the face, she sweeps slowly past the fluttering Tilly,
and down the path. There are hoarse shouts at the gate, and all
her floating foamy whiteness passes slowly into the cab.

Her father notices her slim ankle and foot as she steps up: a
child's foot. His heart is hard with tenderness. But she is in
ecstasies with herself for making such a lovely spectacle. All
the way she sat flamboyant with bliss because it was all so
lovely. She looked down solicitously at her bouquet: white roses
and lilies-of-the-valley and tube-roses and maidenhair
fern—very rich and cascade-like.

Her father sat bewildered with all this strangeness, his
heart was so full it felt hard, and he couldn't think of
anything.

The church was decorated for Christmas, dark with evergreens,
cold and snowy with white flowers. He went vaguely down to the
altar. How long was it since he had gone to be married himself?
He was not sure whether he was going to be married now, or what
he had come for. He had a troubled notion that he had to do
something or other. He saw his wife's bonnet, and wondered why
she wasn't there with him.

They stood before the altar. He was staring up at the east
window, that glowed intensely, a sort of blue purple: it was
deep blue glowing, and some crimson, and little yellow flowers
held fast in veins of shadow, in a heavy web of darkness. How it
burned alive in radiance among its black web.

"Who giveth this woman to be married to this man?" He felt
somebody touch him. He started. The words still re-echoed in his
memory, but were drawing off.

"Me," he said hastily.

Ann bent her head and smiled in her veil. How absurd he
was.

Brangwen was staring away at the burning blue window at the
back of the altar, and wondering vaguely, with pain, if he ever
should get old, if he ever should feel arrived and established.
He was here at Anna's wedding. Well, what right had he to feel
responsible, like a father? He was still as unsure and unfixed
as when he had married himself. His wife and he! With a pang of
anguish he realized what uncertainties they both were. He was a
man of forty-five. Forty-five! In five more years fifty. Then
sixty—then seventy—then it was finished. My
God—and one still was so unestablished!

How did one grow old-how could one become confident? He
wished he felt older. Why, what difference was there, as far as
he felt matured or completed, between him now and him at his own
wedding? He might be getting married over again—he and his
wife. He felt himself tiny, a little, upright figure on a plain
circled round with the immense, roaring sky: he and his wife,
two little, upright figures walking across this plain, whilst
the heavens shimmered and roared about them. When did one come
to an end? In which direction was it finished? There was no end,
no finish, only this roaring vast space. Did one never get old,
never die? That was the clue. He exulted strangely, with
torture. He would go on with his wife, he and she like two
children camping in the plains. What was sure but the endless
sky? But that was so sure, so boundless.

Still the royal blue colour burned and blazed and sported
itself in the web of darkness before him, unwearyingly rich and
splendid. How rich and splendid his own life was, red and
burning and blazing and sporting itself in the dark meshes of
his body: and his wife, how she glowed and burned dark within
her meshes! Always it was so unfinished and unformed!

There was a loud noise of the organ. The whole party was
trooping to the vestry. There was a blotted, scrawled
book—and that young girl putting back her veil in her
vanity, and laying her hand with the wedding-ring
self-consciously conspicuous, and signing her name proudly
because of the vain spectacle she made:

"Anna Theresa Lensky."

"Anna Theresa Lensky"—what a vain, independent minx she
was! The bridegroom, slender in his black swallow-tail and grey
trousers, solemn as a young solemn cat, was writing
seriously:

"William Brangwen."

That looked more like it.

"Come and sign, father," cried the imperious young hussy.

"Thomas Brangwen—clumsy-fist," he said to himself as he
signed.

Then his brother, a big, sallow fellow with black
side-whiskers wrote:

"Alfred Brangwen."

"How many more Brangwens?" said Tom Brangwen, ashamed of the
too-frequent recurrence of his family name.

When they were out again in the sunshine, and he saw the
frost hoary and blue among the long grass under the tomb-stones,
the holly-berries overhead twinkling scarlet as the bells rang,
the yew trees hanging their black, motionless, ragged boughs,
everything seemed like a vision.

The marriage party went across the graveyard to the wall,
mounted it by the little steps, and descended. Oh, a vain white
peacock of a bride perching herself on the top of the wall and
giving her hand to the bridegroom on the other side, to be
helped down! The vanity of her white, slim, daintily-stepping
feet, and her arched neck. And the regal impudence with which
she seemed to dismiss them all, the others, parents and wedding
guests, as she went with her young husband.

In the cottage big fires were burning, there were dozens of
glasses on the table, and holly and mistletoe hanging up. The
wedding party crowded in, and Tom Brangwen, becoming roisterous,
poured out drinks. Everybody must drink. The bells were ringing
away against the windows.

"Lift your glasses up," shouted Tom Brangwen from the
parlour, "lift your glasses up, an' drink to the hearth an'
home—hearth an' home, an' may they enjoy it."

"Night an' day, an' may they enjoy it," shouted Frank
Brangwen, in addition.

"Hammer an' tongs, and may they enjoy it," shouted Alfred
Brangwen, the saturnine.

"Fill your glasses up, an' let's have it all over again,"
shouted Tom Brangwen.

"Hearth an' home, an' may ye enjoy it."

There was a ragged shout of the company in response.

"Bed an' blessin', an' may ye enjoy it," shouted Frank
Brangwen.

There was a swelling chorus in answer.

"Comin' and goin', an' may ye enjoy it," shouted the
saturnine Alfred Brangwen, and the men roared by now boldly, and
the women said, "Just hark, now!"

There was a touch of scandal in the air.

Then the party rolled off in the carriages, full speed back
to the Marsh, to a large meal of the high-tea order, which
lasted for an hour and a half. The bride and bridegroom sat at
the head of the table, very prim and shining both of them,
wordless, whilst the company raged down the table.

The Brangwen men had brandy in their tea, and were becoming
unmanageable. The saturnine Alfred had glittering, unseeing
eyes, and a strange, fierce way of laughing that showed his
teeth. His wife glowered at him and jerked her head at him like
a snake. He was oblivious. Frank Brangwen, the butcher, flushed
and florid and handsome, roared echoes to his two brothers. Tom
Brangwen, in his solid fashion, was letting himself go at
last.

These three brothers dominated the whole company. Tom
Brangwen wanted to make a speech. For the first time in his
life, he must spread himself wordily.

"Marriage," he began, his eyes twinkling and yet quite
profound, for he was deeply serious and hugely amused at the
same time, "Marriage," he said, speaking in the slow,
full-mouthed way of the Brangwens, "is what we're made
for——"

"Let him talk," said Alfred Brangwen, slowly and inscrutably,
"let him talk." Mrs. Alfred darted indignant eyes at her
husband.

"A man," continued Tom Brangwen, "enjoys being a man: for
what purpose was he made a man, if not to enjoy it?"

"That a true word," said Frank, floridly.

"And likewise," continued Tom Brangwen, "a woman enjoys being
a woman: at least we surmise she does——"

"Oh, don't you bother——" called a farmer's
wife.

"You may back your life they'd be summisin'." said Frank's
wife.

"Now," continued Tom Brangwen, "for a man to be a man, it
takes a woman——"

"It does that," said a woman grimly.

"And for a woman to be a woman, it takes a man——"
continued Tom Brangwen.

"All speak up, men," chimed in a feminine voice.

"Therefore we have marriage," continued Tom Brangwen.

"Hold, hold," said Alfred Brangwen. "Don't run us off our
legs."

And in dead silence the glasses were filled. The bride and
bridegroom, two children, sat with intent, shining faces at the
head of the table, abstracted.

"There's no marriage in heaven," went on Tom Brangwen; "but
on earth there is marriage."

"That's the difference between 'em," said Alfred Brangwen,
mocking.

"Alfred," said Tom Brangwen, "keep your remarks till
afterwards, and then we'll thank you for them.-=—There's
very little else, on earth, but marriage. You can talk about
making money, or saving souls. You can save your own soul seven
times over, and you may have a mint of money, but your soul goes
gnawin', gnawin', gnawin', and it says there's something it must
have. In heaven there is no marriage. But on earth there is
marriage, else heaven drops out, and there's no bottom to
it."

"Just hark you now," said Frank's wife.

"Go on, Thomas," said Alfred sardonically.

"If we've got to be Angels," went on Tom Brangwen,
haranguing the company at large, "and if there is no such thing
as a man nor a woman amongst them, then it seems to me as a
married couple makes one Angel."

"It's the brandy," said Alfred Brangwen wearily.

"For," said Tom Brangwen, and the company was listening to
the conundrum, "an Angel can't be less than a human being. And
if it was only the soul of a man minus the man, then it would be
less than a human being."

"Decidedly," said Alfred.

And a laugh went round the table. But Tom Brangwen was
inspired.

"An Angel's got to be more than a human being," he continued.
"So I say, an Angel is the soul of man and woman in one: they
rise united at the Judgment Day, as one Angel——"

"Praising the Lord," said Frank.

"Praising the Lord," repeated Tom.

"And what about the women left over?" asked Alfred, jeering.
The company was getting uneasy.

"That I can't tell. How do I know as there is anybody left
over at the Judgment Day? Let that be. What I say is, that when
a man's soul and a woman's soul unites together—that makes
an Angel——"

"I dunno about souls. I know as one plus one makes three,
sometimes," said Frank. But he had the laugh to himself.

"Bodies and souls, it's the same," said Tom.

"And what about your missis, who was married afore you knew
her?" asked Alfred, set on edge by this discourse.

"That I can't tell you. If I am to become an Angel, it'll be
my married soul, and not my single soul. It'll not be the soul
of me when I was a lad: for I hadn't a soul as would make
an Angel then."

"I can always remember," said Frank's wife, "when our Harold
was bad, he did nothink but see an angel at th' back o' th'
lookin'-glass. 'Look, mother,' 'e said, 'at that angel!' 'Theer
isn't no angel, my duck,' I said, but he wouldn't have it. I
took th' lookin'-glass off'n th' dressin'-table, but it made no
difference. He kep' on sayin' it was there. My word, it did give
me a turn. I thought for sure as I'd lost him."

"I can remember," said another man, Tom's sister's husband,
"my mother gave me a good hidin' once, for sayin' I'd got an
angel up my nose. She seed me pokin', an' she said: 'What are
you pokin' at your nose for-give over.' 'There's an angel up
it,' I said, an' she fetched me such a wipe. But there was. We
used to call them thistle things 'angels' as wafts about. An'
I'd pushed one o' these up my nose, for some reason or
other."

"It's wonderful what children will get up their noses," said
Frank's wife. "I c'n remember our Hemmie, she shoved one o' them
bluebell things out o' th' middle of a bluebell, what they call
'candles', up her nose, and oh, we had some work! I'd seen her
stickin' 'em on the end of her nose, like, but I never thought
she'd be so soft as to shove it right up. She was a gel of eight
or more. Oh, my word, we got a crochet-hook an' I don't know
what ..."

Tom Brangwen's mood of inspiration began to pass away. He
forgot all about it, and was soon roaring and shouting with the
rest. Outside the wake came, singing the carols. They were
invited into the bursting house. They had two fiddles and a
piccolo. There in the parlour they played carols, and the whole
company sang them at the top of its voice. Only the bride and
bridegroom sat with shining eyes and strange, bright faces, and
scarcely sang, or only with just moving lips.

The wake departed, and the guysers came. There was loud
applause, and shouting and excitement as the old mystery play of
St. George, in which every man present had acted as a boy,
proceeded, with banging and thumping of club and dripping
pan.

"By Jove, I got a crack once, when I was playin' Beelzebub,"
said Tom Brangwen, his eyes full of water with laughing. "It
knocked all th' sense out of me as you'd crack an egg. But I
tell you, when I come to, I played Old Johnny Roger with St.
George, I did that."

He was shaking with laughter. Another knock came at the door.
There was a hush.

"It's th' cab," said somebody from the door.

"Walk in," shouted Tom Brangwen, and a red-faced grinning man
entered.

"Now, you two, get yourselves ready an' off to blanket fair,"
shouted Tom Brangwen. "Strike a daisy, but if you're not off
like a blink o' lightnin', you shanna go, you s'll sleep
separate."

Anna rose silently and went to change her dress. Will
Brangwen would have gone out, but Tilly came with his hat and
coat. The youth was helped on.

"Well, here's luck, my boy," shouted his father.

"When th' fat's in th' fire, let it frizzle," admonished his
uncle Frank.

"Fair and softly does it, fair an' softly does
it," cried his aunt, Frank's wife, contrary.

"You don't want to fall over yourself," said his uncle by
marriage. "You're not a bull at a gate."

"Let a man have his own road," said Tom Brangwen testily.
"Don't be so free of your advice—it's his wedding this
time, not yours."

"'E don't want many sign-posts," said his father. "There's
some roads a man has to be led, an' there's some roads a
boss-eyed man can only follow wi' one eye shut. But this road
can't be lost by a blind man nor a boss-eyed man nor a
cripple—and he's neither, thank God."

"Don't you be so sure o' your walkin' powers," cried Frank's
wife. "There's many a man gets no further than half-way, nor
can't to save his life, let him live for ever."

"Why, how do you know?" said Alfred.

"It's plain enough in th' looks o' some," retorted Lizzie,
his sister-in-law.

The youth stood with a faint, half-hearing smile on his face.
He was tense and abstracted. These things, or anything, scarcely
touched him.

Anna came down, in her day dress, very elusive. She kissed
everybody, men and women, Will Brangwen shook hands with
everybody, kissed his mother, who began to cry, and the whole
party went surging out to the cab.

The young couple were shut up, last injunctions shouted at
them.

"Drive on," shouted Tom Brangwen.

The cab rolled off. They saw the light diminish under the ash
trees. Then the whole party, quietened, went indoors.

"They'll have three good fires burning," said Tom Brangwen,
looking at his watch. "I told Emma to make 'em up at nine, an'
then leave the door on th' latch. It's only half-past. They'll
have three fires burning, an' lamps lighted, an' Emma will ha'
warmed th' bed wi' th' warmin' pan. So I s'd think they'll be
all right."

The party was much quieter. They talked of the young
couple.

"She said she didn't want a servant in," said Tom Brangwen.
"The house isn't big enough, she'd always have the creature
under her nose. Emma'll do what is wanted of her, an' they'll be
to themselves."

"It's best," said Lizzie, "you're more free."

The party talked on slowly. Brangwen looked at his watch.

"Let's go an' give 'em a carol," he said. "We s'll find th'
fiddles at the 'Cock an' Robin'."

"Ay, come on," said Frank.

Alfred rose in silence. The brother-in-law and one of Will's
brothers rose also.

The five men went out. The night was flashing with stars.
Sirius blazed like a signal at the side of the hill, Orion,
stately and magnificent, was sloping along.

Tom walked with his brother, Alfred. The men's heels rang on
the ground.

"It's a fine night," said Tom.

"Ay," said Alfred.

"Nice to get out."

"Ay."

The brothers walked close together, the bond of blood strong
between them. Tom always felt very much the junior to
Alfred.

"It's a long while since you left home," he said.

"Ay," said Alfred. "I thought I was getting a bit
oldish—but I'm not. It's the things you've got as gets
worn out, it's not you yourself."

"Why, what's worn out?"

"Most folks as I've anything to do with—as has anything
to do with me. They all break down. You've got to go on by
yourself, if it's only to perdition. There's nobody going
alongside even there."

Tom Brangwen meditated this.

"Maybe you was never broken in," he said.

"No, I never was," said Alfred proudly.

And Tom felt his elder brother despised him a little. He
winced under it.

"Everybody's got a way of their own," he said, stubbornly.
"It's only a dog as hasn't. An' them as can't take what they
give an' give what they take, they must go by themselves, or get
a dog as'll follow 'em."

"They can do without the dog," said his brother. And again
Tom Brangwen was humble, thinking his brother was bigger than
himself. But if he was, he was. And if it were finer to go
alone, it was: he did not want to go for all that.

They went over the field, where a thin, keen wind blew round
the ball of the hill, in the starlight. They came to the stile,
and to the side of Anna's house. The lights were out, only on
the blinds of the rooms downstairs, and of a bedroom upstairs,
firelight flickered.

"We'd better leave 'em alone," said Alfred Brangwen.

"Nay, nay," said Tom. "We'll carol 'em, for th' last
time."

And in a quarter of an hour's time, eleven silent, rather
tipsy men scrambled over the wall, and into the garden by the
yew trees, outside the windows where faint firelight glowered on
the blinds. There came a shrill sound, two violins and a piccolo
shrilling on the frosty air.

"In the fields with their flocks abiding." A commotion of
men's voices broke out singing in ragged unison.

Anna Brangwen had started up, listening, when the music
began. She was afraid.

"It's the wake," he whispered.

She remained tense, her heart beating heavily, possessed with
strange, strong fear. Then there came the burst of men's
singing, rather uneven. She strained still, listening.

"It's Dad," she said, in a low voice. They were silent,
listening.

"And my father," he said.

She listened still. But she was sure. She sank down again
into bed, into his arms. He held her very close, kissing her.
The hymn rambled on outside, all the men singing their best,
having forgotten everything else under the spell of the fiddles
and the tune. The firelight glowed against the darkness in the
room. Anna could hear her father singing with gusto.

"Aren't they silly," she whispered.

And they crept closer, closer together, hearts beating to one
another. And even as the hymn rolled on, they ceased to hear
it.







CHAPTER VI

ANNA VICTRIX

Will Brangwen had some weeks of holiday after his marriage,
so the two took their honeymoon in full hands, alone in their
cottage together.

And to him, as the days went by, it was as if the heavens had
fallen, and he were sitting with her among the ruins, in a new
world, everybody else buried, themselves two blissful survivors,
with everything to squander as they would. At first, he could
not get rid of a culpable sense of licence on his part. Wasn't
there some duty outside, calling him and he did not come?

It was all very well at night, when the doors were locked and
the darkness drawn round the two of them. Then they were the
only inhabitants of the visible earth, the rest were under the
flood. And being alone in the world, they were a law unto
themselves, they could enjoy and squander and waste like
conscienceless gods.

But in the morning, as the carts clanked by, and children
shouted down the lane; as the hucksters came calling their
wares, and the church clock struck eleven, and he and she had
not got up yet, even to breakfast, he could not help feeling
guilty, as if he were committing a breach of the
law—ashamed that he was not up and doing.

"Doing what?" she asked. "What is there to do? You will only
lounge about."

Still, even lounging about was respectable. One was at least
in connection with the world, then. Whereas now, lying so still
and peacefully, while the daylight came obscurely through the
drawn blind, one was severed from the world, one shut oneself
off in tacit denial of the world. And he was troubled.

But it was so sweet and satisfying lying there talking
desultorily with her. It was sweeter than sunshine, and not so
evanescent. It was even irritating the way the church-clock kept
on chiming: there seemed no space between the hours, just a
moment, golden and still, whilst she traced his features with
her finger-tips, utterly careless and happy, and he loved her to
do it.

But he was strange and unused. So suddenly, everything that
had been before was shed away and gone. One day, he was a
bachelor, living with the world. The next day, he was with her,
as remote from the world as if the two of them were buried like
a seed in darkness. Suddenly, like a chestnut falling out of a
burr, he was shed naked and glistening on to a soft, fecund
earth, leaving behind him the hard rind of worldly knowledge and
experience. He heard it in the huckster's cries, the noise of
carts, the calling of children. And it was all like the hard,
shed rind, discarded. Inside, in the softness and stillness of
the room, was the naked kernel, that palpitated in silent
activity, absorbed in reality.

Inside the room was a great steadiness, a core of living
eternity. Only far outside, at the rim, went on the noise and
the destruction. Here at the centre the great wheel was
motionless, centred upon itself. Here was a poised, unflawed
stillness that was beyond time, because it remained the same,
inexhaustible, unchanging, unexhausted.

As they lay close together, complete and beyond the touch of
time or change, it was as if they were at the very centre of all
the slow wheeling of space and the rapid agitation of life,
deep, deep inside them all, at the centre where there is utter
radiance, and eternal being, and the silence absorbed in praise:
the steady core of all movements, the unawakened sleep of all
wakefulness. They found themselves there, and they lay still, in
each other's arms; for their moment they were at the heart of
eternity, whilst time roared far off, for ever far off, towards
the rim.

Then gradually they were passed away from the supreme centre,
down the circles of praise and joy and gladness, further and
further out, towards the noise and the friction. But their
hearts had burned and were tempered by the inner reality, they
were unalterably glad.

Gradually they began to wake up, the noises outside became
more real. They understood and answered the call outside. They
counted the strokes of the bell. And when they counted midday,
they understood that it was midday, in the world, and for
themselves also.

It dawned upon her that she was hungry. She had been getting
hungrier for a lifetime. But even yet it was not sufficiently
real to rouse her. A long way off she could hear the words, "I
am dying of hunger." Yet she lay still, separate, at peace, and
the words were unuttered. There was still another lapse.

And then, quite calmly, even a little surprised, she was in
the present, and was saying:

"I am dying with hunger."

"So am I," he said calmly, as if it were of not the slightest
significance. And they relapsed into the warm, golden stillness.
And the minutes flowed unheeded past the window outside.

Then suddenly she stirred against him.

"My dear, I am dying of hunger," she said.

It was a slight pain to him to be brought to.

"We'll get up," he said, unmoving.

And she sank her head on to him again, and they lay still,
lapsing. Half consciously, he heard the clock chime the hour.
She did not hear.

"Do get up," she murmured at length, "and give me something
to eat."

"Yes," he said, and he put his arms round her, and she lay
with her face on him. They were faintly astonished that they did
not move. The minutes rustled louder at the window.

"Let me go then," he said.

She lifted her head from him, relinquishingly. With a little
breaking away, he moved out of bed, and was taking his clothes.
She stretched out her hand to him.

"You are so nice," she said, and he went back for a moment or
two.

Then actually he did slip into some clothes, and, looking
round quickly at her, was gone out of the room. She lay
translated again into a pale, clearer peace. As if she were a
spirit, she listened to the noise of him downstairs, as if she
were no longer of the material world.

It was half-past one. He looked at the silent kitchen,
untouched from last night, dim with the drawn blind. And he
hastened to draw up the blind, so people should know they were
not in bed any later. Well, it was his own house, it did not
matter. Hastily he put wood in the grate and made a fire. He
exulted in himself, like an adventurer on an undiscovered
island. The fire blazed up, he put on the kettle. How happy he
felt! How still and secluded the house was! There were only he
and she in the world.

But when he unbolted the door, and, half-dressed, looked out,
he felt furtive and guilty. The world was there, after all. And
he had felt so secure, as though this house were the Ark in the
flood, and all the rest was drowned. The world was there: and it
was afternoon. The morning had vanished and gone by, the day was
growing old. Where was the bright, fresh morning? He was
accused. Was the morning gone, and he had lain with blinds
drawn, let it pass by unnoticed?

He looked again round the chill, grey afternoon. And he
himself so soft and warm and glowing! There were two sprigs of
yellow jasmine in the saucer that covered the milk-jug. He
wondered who had been and left the sign. Taking the jug, he
hastily shut the door. Let the day and the daylight drop out,
let it go by unseen. He did not care. What did one day more or
less matter to him. It could fall into oblivion unspent if it
liked, this one course of daylight.

"Somebody has been and found the door locked," he said when
he went upstairs with the tray. He gave her the two sprigs of
jasmine. She laughed as she sat up in bed, childishly threading
the flowers in the breast of her nightdress. Her brown hair
stuck out like a nimbus, all fierce, round her softly glowing
face. Her dark eyes watched the tray eagerly.

"How good!" she cried, sniffing the cold air. "I'm glad you
did a lot." And she stretched out her hands eagerly for her
plate—"Come back to bed, quick—it's cold." She
rubbed her hands together sharply.

He [put off what little clothing he had on, and] sat beside
her in the bed.

"You look like a lion, with your mane sticking out, and your
nose pushed over your food," he said.

She tinkled with laughter, and gladly ate her breakfast.

The morning was sunk away unseen, the afternoon was steadily
going too, and he was letting it go. One bright transit of
daylight gone by unacknowledged! There was something unmanly,
recusant in it. He could not quite reconcile himself to the
fact. He felt he ought to get up, go out quickly into the
daylight, and work or spend himself energetically in the open
air of the afternoon, retrieving what was left to him of the
day.

But he did not go. Well, one might as well be hung for a
sheep as for a lamb. If he had lost this day of his life, he had
lost it. He gave it up. He was not going to count his losses.
She didn't care. She didn't care in the least.
Then why should he? Should he be behind her in recklessness and
independence? She was superb in her indifference. He wanted to
be like her.

She took her responsibilities lightly. When she spilled her
tea on the pillow, she rubbed it carelessly with a handkerchief,
and turned over the pillow. He would have felt guilty. She did
not. And it pleased him. It pleased him very much to see how
these things did not matter to her.

When the meal was over, she wiped her mouth on her
handkerchief quickly, satisfied and happy, and settled down on
the pillow again, with her fingers in his close, strange,
fur-like hair.

The evening began to fall, the light was half alive, livid.
He hid his face against her.

"I don't like the twilight," he said.

"I love it," she answered.

He hid his face against her, who was warm and like sunlight.
She seemed to have sunlight inside her. Her heart beating seemed
like sunlight upon him. In her was a more real day than the day
could give: so warm and steady and restoring. He hid his face
against her whilst the twilight fell, whilst she lay staring out
with her unseeing dark eyes, as if she wandered forth
untrammelled in the vagueness. The vagueness gave her scope and
set her free.

To him, turned towards her heart-pulse, all was very still
and very warm and very close, like noon-tide. He was glad to
know this warm, full noon. It ripened him and took away his
responsibility, some of his conscience.

They got up when it was quite dark. She hastily twisted her
hair into a knot, and was dressed in a twinkling. Then they went
downstairs, drew to the fire, and sat in silence, saying a few
words now and then.

Her father was coming. She bundled the dishes away, flew
round and tidied the room, assumed another character, and again
seated herself. He sat thinking of his carving of Eve. He loved
to go over his carving in his mind, dwelling on every stroke,
every line. How he loved it now! When he went back to his
Creation-panel again, he would finish his Eve, tender and
sparkling. It did not satisfy him yet. The Lord should labour
over her in a silent passion of Creation, and Adam should be
tense as if in a dream of immortality, and Eve should take form
glimmeringly, shadowily, as if the Lord must wrestle with His
own soul for her, yet she was a radiance.

"What are you thinking about?" she asked.

He found it difficult to say. His soul became shy when he
tried to communicate it.

"I was thinking my Eve was too hard and lively."

"Why?"

"I don't know. She should be more——," he made a
gesture of infinite tenderness.

There was a stillness with a little joy. He could not tell
her any more. Why could he not tell her any more? She felt a
pang of disconsolate sadness. But it was nothing. She went to
him.

Her father came, and found them both very glowing, like an
open flower. He loved to sit with them. Where there was a
perfume of love, anyone who came must breathe it. They were both
very quick and alive, lit up from the other-world, so that it
was quite an experience for them, that anyone else could
exist.

But still it troubled Will Brangwen a little, in his orderly,
conventional mind, that the established rule of things had gone
so utterly. One ought to get up in the morning and wash oneself
and be a decent social being. Instead, the two of them stayed in
bed till nightfall, and then got up, she never washed her face,
but sat there talking to her father as bright and shameless as a
daisy opened out of the dew. Or she got up at ten o'clock, and
quite blithely went to bed again at three, or at half-past four,
stripping him naked in the daylight, and all so gladly and
perfectly, oblivious quite of his qualms. He let her do as she
liked with him, and shone with strange pleasure. She was to
dispose of him as she would. He was translated with gladness to
be in her hands. And down went his qualms, his maxims, his
rules, his smaller beliefs, she scattered them like an expert
skittle-player. He was very much astonished and delighted to see
them scatter.

He stood and gazed and grinned with wonder whilst his Tablets
of Stone went bounding and bumping and splintering down the
hill, dislodged for ever. Indeed, it was true as they said, that
a man wasn't born before he was married. What a change
indeed!

He surveyed the rind of the world: houses, factories, trams,
the discarded rind; people scurrying about, work going on, all
on the discarded surface. An earthquake had burst it all from
inside. It was as if the surface of the world had been broken
away entire: Ilkeston, streets, church, people, work,
rule-of-the-day, all intact; and yet peeled away into unreality,
leaving here exposed the inside, the reality: one's own being,
strange feelings and passions and yearnings and beliefs and
aspirations, suddenly become present, revealed, the permanent
bedrock, knitted one rock with the woman one loved. It was
confounding. Things are not what they seem! When he was a child,
he had thought a woman was a woman merely by virtue of her
skirts and petticoats. And now, lo, the whole world could be
divested of its garment, the garment could lie there shed away
intact, and one could stand in a new world, a new earth, naked
in a new, naked universe. It was too astounding and
miraculous.

This then was marriage! The old things didn't matter any
more. One got up at four o'clock, and had broth at tea-time and
made toffee in the middle of the night. One didn't put on one's
clothes or one did put on one's clothes. He still was not quite
sure it was not criminal. But it was a discovery to find one
might be so supremely absolved. All that mattered was that he
should love her and she should love him and they should live
kindled to one another, like the Lord in two burning bushes that
were not consumed. And so they lived for the time.

She was less hampered than he, so she came more quickly to
her fulness, and was sooner ready to enjoy again a return to the
outside world. She was going to give a tea-party. His heart
sank. He wanted to go on, to go on as they were. He wanted to
have done with the outside world, to declare it finished for
ever. He was anxious with a deep desire and anxiety that she
should stay with him where they were in the timeless universe of
free, perfect limbs and immortal breast, affirming that the old
outward order was finished. The new order was begun to last for
ever, the living life, palpitating from the gleaming core, to
action, without crust or cover or outward lie. But no, he could
not keep her. She wanted the dead world again-she wanted to walk
on the outside once more. She was going to give a tea-party. It
made him frightened and furious and miserable. He was afraid all
would be lost that he had so newly come into: like the youth in
the fairy tale, who was king for one day in the year, and for
the rest a beaten herd: like Cinderella also, at the feast. He
was sullen. But she blithely began to make preparations for her
tea-party. His fear was too strong, he was troubled, he hated
her shallow anticipation and joy. Was she not forfeiting the
reality, the one reality, for all that was shallow and
worthless? Wasn't she carelessly taking off her crown to be an
artificial figure having other artificial women to tea: when she
might have been perfect with him, and kept him perfect, in the
land of intimate connection? Now he must be deposed, his joy
must be destroyed, he must put on the vulgar, shallow death of
an outward existence.

He ground his soul in uneasiness and fear. But she rose to a
real outburst of house-work, turning him away as she shoved the
furniture aside to her broom. He stood hanging miserable near.
He wanted her back. Dread, and desire for her to stay with him,
and shame at his own dependence on her drove him to anger. He
began to lose his head. The wonder was going to pass away again.
All the love, the magnificent new order was going to be lost,
she would forfeit it all for the outside things. She would admit
the outside world again, she would throw away the living fruit
for the ostensible rind. He began to hate this in her. Driven by
fear of her departure into a state of helplessness, almost of
imbecility, he wandered about the house.

And she, with her skirts kilted up, flew round at her work,
absorbed.

"Shake the rug then, if you must hang round," she said.

And fretting with resentment, he went to shake the rug. She
was blithely unconscious of him. He came back, hanging near to
her.

"Can't you do anything?" she said, as if to a child,
impatiently. "Can't you do your wood-work?"

"Where shall I do it?" he asked, harsh with pain.

"Anywhere."

How furious that made him.

"Or go for a walk," she continued. "Go down to the Marsh.
Don't hang about as if you were only half there."

He winced and hated it. He went away to read. Never had his
soul felt so flayed and uncreated.

And soon he must come down again to her. His hovering near
her, wanting her to be with him, the futility of him, the way
his hands hung, irritated her beyond bearing. She turned on him
blindly and destructively, he became a mad creature, black and
electric with fury. The dark storms rose in him, his eyes glowed
black and evil, he was fiendish in his thwarted soul.

There followed two black and ghastly days, when she was set
in anguish against him, and he felt as if he were in a black,
violent underworld, and his wrists quivered murderously. And she
resisted him. He seemed a dark, almost evil thing, pursuing her,
hanging on to her, burdening her. She would give anything to
have him removed.

"You need some work to do," she said. "You ought to be at
work. Can't you do something?"

His soul only grew the blacker. His condition now became
complete, the darkness of his soul was thorough. Everything had
gone: he remained complete in his own tense, black will. He was
now unaware of her. She did not exist. His dark, passionate soul
had recoiled upon itself, and now, clinched and coiled round a
centre of hatred, existed in its own power. There was a
curiously ugly pallor, an expressionlessness in his face. She
shuddered from him. She was afraid of him. His will seemed
grappled upon her.

She retreated before him. She went down to the Marsh, she
entered again the immunity of her parents' love for her. He
remained at Yew Cottage, black and clinched, his mind dead. He
was unable to work at his wood-carving. He went on working
monotonously at the garden, blindly, like a mole.

As she came home, up the hill, looking away at the town dim
and blue on the hill, her heart relaxed and became yearning. She
did not want to fight him any more. She wanted love—oh,
love. Her feet began to hurry. She wanted to get back to him.
Her heart became tight with yearning for him.

He had been making the garden in order, cutting the edges of
the turf, laying the path with stones. He was a good, capable
workman.

"How nice you've made it," she said, approaching tentatively
down the path.

But he did not heed, he did not hear. His brain was solid and
dead.

"Haven't you made it nice?" she repeated, rather
plaintively.

He looked up at her, with that fixed, expressionless face and
unseeing eyes which shocked her, made her go dazed and blind.
Then he turned away. She saw his slender, stooping figure
groping. A revulsion came over her. She went indoors.

As she took off her hat in the bedroom, she found herself
weeping bitterly, with some of the old, anguished, childish
desolation. She sat still and cried on. She did not want him to
know. She was afraid of his hard, evil moments, the head dropped
a little, rigidly, in a crouching, cruel way. She was afraid of
him. He seemed to lacerate her sensitive femaleness. He seemed
to hurt her womb, to take pleasure in torturing her.

He came into the house. The sound of his footsteps in his
heavy boots filled her with horror: a hard, cruel, malignant
sound. She was afraid he would come upstairs. But he did not.
She waited apprehensively. He went out.

Where she was most vulnerable, he hurt her. Oh, where she was
delivered over to him, in her very soft femaleness, he seemed to
lacerate her and desecrate her. She pressed her hands over her
womb in anguish, whilst the tears ran down her face. And why,
and why? Why was he like this?

Suddenly she dried her tears. She must get the tea ready. She
went downstairs and set the table. When the meal was ready, she
called to him.

"I've mashed the tea, Will, are you coming?"

She herself could hear the sound of tears in her own voice,
and she began to cry again. He did not answer, but went on with
his work. She waited a few minutes, in anguish. Fear came over
her, she was panic-stricken with terror, like a child; and she
could not go home again to her father; she was held by the power
in this man who had taken her.

She turned indoors so that he should not see her tears. She
sat down to table. Presently he came into the scullery. His
movements jarred on her, as she heard them. How horrible was the
way he pumped, exacerbating, so cruel! How she hated to hear
him! How he hated her! How his hatred was like blows upon her!
The tears were coming again.

He came in, his face wooden and lifeless, fixed, persistent.
He sat down to tea, his head dropped over his cup, uglily. His
hands were red from the cold water, and there were rims of earth
in his nails. He went on with his tea.

It was his negative insensitiveness to her that she could not
bear, something clayey and ugly. His intelligence was
self-absorbed. How unnatural it was to sit with a self-absorbed
creature, like something negative ensconced opposite one.
Nothing could touch him—he could only absorb things into
his own self.

The tears were running down her face. Something startled him,
and he was looking up at her with his hateful, hard, bright
eyes, hard and unchanging as a bird of prey.

"What are you crying for?" came the grating voice.

She winced through her womb. She could not stop crying.

"What are you crying for?" came the question again, in just
the same tone. And still there was silence, with only the sniff
of her tears.

His eyes glittered, and as if with malignant desire. She
shrank and became blind. She was like a bird being beaten down.
A sort of swoon of helplessness came over her. She was of
another order than he, she had no defence against him. Against
such an influence, she was only vulnerable, she was given
up.

He rose and went out of the house, possessed by the evil
spirit. It tortured him and wracked him, and fought in him. And
whilst he worked, in the deepening twilight, it left him.
Suddenly he saw that she was hurt. He had only seen her
triumphant before. Suddenly his heart was torn with compassion
for her. He became alive again, in an anguish of compassion. He
could not bear to think of her tears—he could not bear it.
He wanted to go to her and pour out his heart's blood to her. He
wanted to give everything to her, all his blood, his life, to
the last dregs, pour everything away to her. He yearned with
passionate desire to offer himself to her, utterly.

The evening star came, and the night. She had not lighted the
lamp. His heart burned with pain and with grief. He trembled to
go to her.

And at last he went, hesitating, burdened with a great
offering. The hardness had gone out of him, his body was
sensitive, slightly trembling. His hand was curiously sensitive,
shrinking, as he shut the door. He fixed the latch almost
tenderly.

In the kitchen was only the fireglow, he could not see her.
He quivered with dread lest she had gone—he knew not
where. In shrinking dread, he went through to the parlour, to
the foot of the stairs.

"Anna," he called.

There was no answer. He went up the stairs, in dread of the
empty house—the horrible emptiness that made his heart
ring with insanity. He opened the bedroom door, and his heart
flashed with certainty that she had gone, that he was alone.

But he saw her on the bed, lying very still and scarcely
noticeable, with her back to him. He went and put his hand on
her shoulder, very gently, hesitating, in a great fear and
self-offering. She did not move.

He waited. The hand that touched her shoulder hurt him, as if
she were sending it away. He stood dim with pain.

"Anna," he said.

But still she was motionless, like a curled up, oblivious
creature. His heart beat with strange throes of pain. Then, by a
motion under his hand, he knew she was crying, holding herself
hard so that her tears should not be known. He waited. The
tension continued—perhaps she was not crying—then
suddenly relapsed with a sharp catch of a sob. His heart flamed
with love and suffering for her. Kneeling carefully on the bed,
so that his earthy boots should not touch it, he took her in his
arms to comfort her. The sobs gathered in her, she was sobbing
bitterly. But not to him. She was still away from him.

He held her against his breast, whilst she sobbed, withheld
from him, and all his body vibrated against her.

"Don't cry—don't cry," he said, with an odd simplicity.
His heart was calm and numb with a sort of innocence of love,
now.

She still sobbed, ignoring him, ignoring that he held her.
His lips were dry.

"Don't cry, my love," he said, in the same abstract way. In
his breast his heart burned like a torch, with suffering. He
could not bear the desolateness of her crying. He would have
soothed her with his blood. He heard the church clock chime, as
if it touched him, and he waited in suspense for it to have gone
by. It was quiet again.

"My love," he said to her, bending to touch her wet face with
his mouth. He was afraid to touch her. How wet her face was! His
body trembled as he held her. He loved her till he felt his
heart and all his veins would burst and flood her with his hot,
healing blood. He knew his blood would heal and restore her.

She was becoming quieter. He thanked the God of mercy that at
last she was becoming quieter. His head felt so strange and
blazed. Still he held her close, with trembling arms. His blood
seemed very strong, enveloping her.

And at last she began to draw near to him, she nestled to
him. His limbs, his body, took fire and beat up in flames. She
clung to him, she cleaved to his body. The flames swept him, he
held her in sinews of fire. If she would kiss him! He bent his
mouth down. And her mouth, soft and moist, received him. He felt
his veins would burst with anguish of thankfulness, his heart
was mad with gratefulness, he could pour himself out upon her
for ever.

When they came to themselves, the night was very dark. Two
hours had gone by. They lay still and warm and weak, like the
new-born, together. And there was a silence almost of the
unborn. Only his heart was weeping happily, after the pain. He
did not understand, he had yielded, given way. There was
no understanding. There could be only acquiescence and
submission, and tremulous wonder of consummation.

The next morning, when they woke up, it had snowed. He
wondered what was the strange pallor in the air, and the unusual
tang. Snow was on the grass and the window-sill, it weighed down
the black, ragged branches of the yews, and smoothed the graves
in the churchyard.

Soon, it began to snow again, and they were shut in. He was
glad, for then they were immune in a shadowy silence, there was
no world, no time.

The snow lasted for some days. On the Sunday they went to
church. They made a line of footprints across the garden, he
left a flat snowprint of his hand on the wall as he vaulted
over, they traced the snow across the churchyard. For three days
they had been immune in a perfect love.

There were very few people in church, and she was glad. She
did not care much for church. She had never questioned any
beliefs, and she was, from habit and custom, a regular attendant
at morning service. But she had ceased to come with any
anticipation. To-day, however, in the strangeness of snow, after
such consummation of love, she felt expectant again, and
delighted. She was still in the eternal world.

She used, after she went to the High School, and wanted to be
a lady, wanted to fulfil some mysterious ideal, always to listen
to the sermon and to try to gather suggestions. That was all
very well for a while. The vicar told her to be good in this way
and in that. She went away feeling it was her highest aim to
fulfil these injunctions.

But quickly this palled. After a short time, she was not very
much interested in being good. Her soul was in quest of
something, which was not just being good, and doing one's best.
No, she wanted something else: something that was not her
ready-made duty. Everything seemed to be merely a matter of
social duty, and never of her self. They talked about her soul,
but somehow never managed to rouse or to implicate her soul. As
yet her soul was not brought in at all.

So that whilst she had an affection for Mr. Loverseed, the
vicar, and a protective sort of feeling for Cossethay church,
wanting always to help it and defend it, it counted very small
in her life.

Not but that she was conscious of some unsatisfaction. When
her husband was roused by the thought of the churches, then she
became hostile to the ostensible church, she hated it for not
fulfilling anything in her. The Church told her to be good: very
well, she had no idea of contradicting what it said. The Church
talked about her soul, about the welfare of mankind, as if the
saving of her soul lay in her performing certain acts conducive
to the welfare of mankind. Well and good-it was so, then.

Nevertheless, as she sat in church her face had a pathos and
poignancy. Was this what she had come to hear: how by doing this
thing and by not doing that, she could save her soul? She did
not contradict it. But the pathos of her face gave the lie.
There was something else she wanted to hear, it was something
else she asked for from the Church.

But who was she to affirm it? And what was she doing
with unsatisfied desires? She was ashamed. She ignored them and
left them out of count as much as possible, her underneath
yearnings. They angered her. She wanted to be like other people,
decently satisfied.

He angered her more than ever. Church had an irresistible
attraction for him. And he paid no more attention to that part
of the service which was Church to her, than if he had been an
angel or a fabulous beast sitting there. He simply paid no heed
to the sermon or to the meaning of the service. There was
something thick, dark, dense, powerful about him that irritated
her too deeply for her to speak of it. The Church teaching in
itself meant nothing to him. "And forgive us our trespasses as
we forgive them that trespass against us"—it simply did
not touch him. It might have been more sounds, and it would have
acted upon him in the same way. He did not want things to be
intelligible. And he did not care about his trespasses, neither
about the trespasses of his neighbour, when he was in church.
Leave that care for weekdays. When he was in church, he took no
more notice of his daily life. It was weekday stuff. As for the
welfare of mankind—he merely did not realize that there
was any such thing: except on weekdays, when he was good-natured
enough. In church, he wanted a dark, nameless emotion, the
emotion of all the great mysteries of passion.

He was not interested in the thought of himself or of
her: oh, and how that irritated her! He ignored the sermon, he
ignored the greatness of mankind, he did not admit the immediate
importance of mankind. He did not care about himself as a human
being. He did not attach any vital importance to his life in the
drafting office, or his life among men. That was just merely the
margin to the text. The verity was his connection with Anna and
his connection with the Church, his real being lay in his dark
emotional experience of the Infinite, of the Absolute. And the
great mysterious, illuminated capitals to the text, were his
feelings with the Church.

It exasperated her beyond measure. She could not get out of
the Church the satisfaction he got. The thought of her soul was
intimately mixed up with the thought of her own self. Indeed,
her soul and her own self were one and the same in her. Whereas
he seemed simply to ignore the fact of his own self, almost to
refute it. He had a soul—a dark, inhuman thing caring
nothing for humanity. So she conceived it. And in the gloom and
the mystery of the Church his soul lived and ran free, like some
strange, underground thing, abstract.

He was very strange to her, and, in this church spirit, in
conceiving himself as a soul, he seemed to escape and run free
of her. In a way, she envied it him, this dark freedom and
jubilation of the soul, some strange entity in him. It
fascinated her. Again she hated it. And again, she despised him,
wanted to destroy it in him.

This snowy morning, he sat with a dark-bright face beside
her, not aware of her, and somehow, she felt he was conveying to
strange, secret places the love that sprang in him for her. He
sat with a dark-rapt, half-delighted face, looking at a little
stained window. She saw the ruby-coloured glass, with the shadow
heaped along the bottom from the snow outside, and the familiar
yellow figure of the lamb holding the banner, a little darkened
now, but in the murky interior strangely luminous, pregnant.

She had always liked the little red and yellow window. The
lamb, looking very silly and self-conscious, was holding up a
forepaw, in the cleft of which was dangerously perched a little
flag with a red cross. Very pale yellow, the lamb, with greenish
shadows. Since she was a child she had liked this creature, with
the same feeling she felt for the little woolly lambs on green
legs that children carried home from the fair every year. She
had always liked these toys, and she had the same amused,
childish liking for this church lamb. Yet she had always been
uneasy about it. She was never sure that this lamb with a flag
did not want to be more than it appeared. So she half mistrusted
it, there was a mixture of dislike in her attitude to it.

Now, by a curious gathering, knitting of his eyes, the
faintest tension of ecstasy on his face, he gave her the
uncomfortable feeling that he was in correspondence with the
creature, the lamb in the window. A cold wonder came over
her—her soul was perplexed. There he sat, motionless,
timeless, with the faint, bright tension on his face. What was
he doing? What connection was there between him and the lamb in
the glass?

Suddenly it gleamed to her dominant, this lamb with the flag.
Suddenly she had a powerful mystic experience, the power of the
tradition seized on her, she was transported to another world.
And she hated it, resisted it.

Instantly, it was only a silly lamb in the glass again. And
dark, violent hatred of her husband swept up in her. What was he
doing, sitting there gleaming, carried away, soulful?

She shifted sharply, she knocked him as she pretended to pick
up her glove, she groped among his feet.

He came to, rather bewildered, exposed. Anybody but her would
have pitied him. She wanted to rend him. He did not know what
was amiss, what he had been doing.

As they sat at dinner, in their cottage, he was dazed by the
chill of antagonism from her. She did not know why she was so
angry. But she was incensed.

"Why do you never listen to the sermon?" she asked, seething
with hostility and violation.

"I do," he said.

"You don't—you don't hear a single word."

He retired into himself, to enjoy his own sensation. There
was something subterranean about him, as if he had an underworld
refuge. The young girl hated to be in the house with him when he
was like this.

After dinner, he retired into the parlour, continuing in the
same state of abstraction, which was a burden intolerable to
her. Then he went to the book-shelf and took down books to look
at, that she had scarcely glanced over.

He sat absorbed over a book on the illuminations in old
missals, and then over a book on paintings in churches: Italian,
English, French and German. He had, when he was sixteen,
discovered a Roman Catholic bookshop where he could find such
things.

He turned the leaves in absorption, absorbed in looking, not
thinking. He was like a man whose eyes were in his chest, she
said of him later.

She came to look at the things with him. Half they fascinated
her. She was puzzled, interested, and antagonistic.

It was when she came to pictures of the Pieta that she burst
out.

"I do think they're loathsome," she cried.

"What?" he said, surprised, abstracted.

"Those bodies with slits in them, posing to be
worshipped."

"You see, it means the Sacraments, the Bread," he said
slowly.

"Does it," she cried. "Then it's worse. I don't want to see
your chest slit, nor to eat your dead body, even if you offer it
to me. Can't you see it's horrible?"

"It isn't me, it's Christ."

"What if it is, it's you! And it's horrible, you wallowing in
your own dead body, and thinking of eating it in the
Sacrament."

"You've to take it for what it means."

"It means your human body put up to be slit and killed and
then worshipped—what else?"

They lapsed into silence. His soul grew angry and aloof.

"And I think that lamb in Church," she said, "is the biggest
joke in the parish——"

She burst into a "Pouf" of ridiculing laughter.

"It might be, to those that see nothing in it," he said. "You
know it's the symbol of Christ, of His innocence and
sacrifice."

"Whatever it means, it's a lamb," she said. "And I
like lambs too much to treat them as if they had to mean
something. As for the Christmas-tree
flag—no——"

And again she poufed with mockery.

"It's because you don't know anything," he said violently,
harshly. "Laugh at what you know, not at what you don't
know."

"What don't I know?"

"What things mean."

"And what does it mean?"

He was reluctant to answer her. He found it difficult.

"What does it mean?" she insisted.

"It means the triumph of the Resurrection."

She hesitated, baffled, a fear came upon her. What were these
things? Something dark and powerful seemed to extend before her.
Was it wonderful after all?

But no—she refused it.

"Whatever it may pretend to mean, what it is is a silly
absurd toy-lamb with a Christmas-tree flag ledged on its
paw—and if it wants to mean anything else, it must look
different from that."

He was in a state of violent irritation against her. Partly
he was ashamed of his love for these things; he hid his passion
for them. He was ashamed of the ecstasy into which he could
throw himself with these symbols. And for a few moments he hated
the lamb and the mystic pictures of the Eucharist, with a
violent, ashy hatred. His fire was put out, she had thrown cold
water on it. The whole thing was distasteful to him, his mouth
was full of ashes. He went out cold with corpse-like anger,
leaving her alone. He hated her. He walked through the white
snow, under a sky of lead.

And she wept again, in bitter recurrence of the previous
gloom. But her heart was easy—oh, much more easy.

She was quite willing to make it up with him when he came
home again. He was black and surly, but abated. She had broken a
little of something in him. And at length he was glad to forfeit
from his soul all his symbols, to have her making love to him.
He loved it when she put her head on his knee, and he had not
asked her to or wanted her to, he loved her when she put her
arms round him and made bold love to him, and he did not make
love to her. He felt a strong blood in his limbs again.

And she loved the intent, far look of his eyes when they
rested on her: intent, yet far, not near, not with her. And she
wanted to bring them near. She wanted his eyes to come to hers,
to know her. And they would not. They remained intent, and far,
and proud, like a hawk's naive and inhuman as a hawk's. So she
loved him and caressed him and roused him like a hawk, till he
was keen and instant, but without tenderness. He came to her
fierce and hard, like a hawk striking and taking her. He was no
mystic any more, she was his aim and object, his prey. And she
was carried off, and he was satisfied, or satiated at last.

Then immediately she began to retaliate on him. She too was a
hawk. If she imitated the pathetic plover running plaintive to
him, that was part of the game. When he, satisfied, moved with a
proud, insolent slouch of the body and a half-contemptuous drop
of the head, unaware of her, ignoring her very existence, after
taking his fill of her and getting his satisfaction of her, her
soul roused, its pinions became like steel, and she struck at
him. When he sat on his perch glancing sharply round with
solitary pride, pride eminent and fierce, she dashed at him and
threw him from his station savagely, she goaded him from his
keen dignity of a male, she harassed him from his unperturbed
pride, till he was mad with rage, his light brown eyes burned
with fury, they saw her now, like flames of anger they flared at
her and recognized her as the enemy.

Very good, she was the enemy, very good. As he prowled round
her, she watched him. As he struck at her, she struck back.

He was angry because she had carelessly pushed away his tools
so that they got rusty.

"Don't leave them littering in my way, then," she said.

"I shall leave them where I like," he cried.

"Then I shall throw them where I like."

They glowered at each other, he with rage in his hands, she
with her soul fierce with victory. They were very well matched.
They would fight it out.

She turned to her sewing. Immediately the tea-things were
cleared away, she fetched out the stuff, and his soul rose in
rage. He hated beyond measure to hear the shriek of calico as
she tore the web sharply, as if with pleasure. And the run of
the sewing-machine gathered a frenzy in him at last.

"Aren't you going to stop that row?" he shouted. "Can't you
do it in the daytime?"

She looked up sharply, hostile from her work.

"No, I can't do it in the daytime. I have other things to do.
Besides, I like sewing, and you're not going to stop me doing
it."

Whereupon she turned back to her arranging, fixing,
stitching, his nerves jumped with anger as the sewing-machine
started and stuttered and buzzed.

But she was enjoying herself, she was triumphant and happy as
the darting needle danced ecstatically down a hem, drawing the
stuff along under its vivid stabbing, irresistibly. She made the
machine hum. She stopped it imperiously, her fingers were deft
and swift and mistress.

If he sat behind her stiff with impotent rage it only made a
trembling vividness come into her energy. On she worked. At last
he went to bed in a rage, and lay stiff, away from her. And she
turned her back on him. And in the morning they did not speak,
except in mere cold civilities.

And when he came home at night, his heart relenting and
growing hot for love of her, when he was just ready to feel he
had been wrong, and when he was expecting her to feel the same,
there she sat at the sewing-machine, the whole house was covered
with clipped calico, the kettle was not even on the fire.

She started up, affecting concern.

"Is it so late?" she cried.

But his face had gone stiff with rage. He walked through to
the parlour, then he walked back and out of the house again. Her
heart sank. Very swiftly she began to make his tea.

He went black-hearted down the road to Ilkeston. When he was
in this state he never thought. A bolt shot across the doors of
his mind and shut him in, a prisoner. He went back to Ilkeston,
and drank a glass of beer. What was he going to do? He did not
want to see anybody.

He would go to Nottingham, to his own town. He went to the
station and took a train. When he got to Nottingham, still he
had nowhere to go. However, it was more agreeable to walk
familiar streets. He paced them with a mad restlessness, as if
he were running amok. Then he turned to a book-shop and found a
book on Bamberg Cathedral. Here was a discovery! here was
something for him! He went into a quiet restaurant to look at
his treasure. He lit up with thrills of bliss as he turned from
picture to picture. He had found something at last, in these
carvings. His soul had great satisfaction. Had he not come out
to seek, and had he not found! He was in a passion of
fulfilment. These were the finest carvings, statues, he had ever
seen. The book lay in his hands like a doorway. The world around
was only an enclosure, a room. But he was going away. He
lingered over the lovely statues of women. A marvellous,
finely-wrought universe crystallized out around him as he looked
again, at the crowns, the twining hair, the woman-faces. He
liked all the better the unintelligible text of the German. He
preferred things he could not understand with the mind. He loved
the undiscovered and the undiscoverable. He pored over the
pictures intensely. And these were wooden statues,
"Holz"—he believed that meant wood. Wooden statues so
shapen to his soul! He was a million times gladdened. How
undiscovered the world was, how it revealed itself to his soul!
What a fine, exciting thing his life was, at his hand! Did not
Bamberg Cathedral make the world his own? He celebrated his
triumphant strength and life and verity, and embraced the vast
riches he was inheriting.

But it was about time to go home. He had better catch a
train. All the time there was a steady bruise at the bottom of
his soul, but so steady as to be forgettable. He caught a train
for Ilkeston.

It was ten o'clock as he was mounting the hill to Cossethay,
carrying his limp book on Bamberg Cathedral. He had not yet
thought of Anna, not definitely. The dark finger pressing a
bruise controlled him thoughtlessly.

Anna had started guiltily when he left the house. She had
hastened preparing the tea, hoping he would come back. She had
made some toast, and got all ready. Then he didn't come. She
cried with vexation and disappointment. Why had he gone? Why
couldn't he come back now? Why was it such a battle between
them? She loved him—she did love him—why couldn't he
be kinder to her, nicer to her?

She waited in distress—then her mood grew harder. He
passed out of her thoughts. She had considered indignantly, what
right he had to interfere with her sewing? She had indignantly
refuted his right to interfere with her at all. She was not to
be interfered with. Was she not herself, and he the
outsider.

Yet a quiver of fear went through her. If he should leave
her? She sat conjuring fears and sufferings, till she wept with
very self-pity. She did not know what she would do if he left
her, or if he turned against her. The thought of it chilled her,
made her desolate and hard. And against him, the stranger, the
outsider, the being who wanted to arrogate authority, she
remained steadily fortified. Was she not herself? How could one
who was not of her own kind presume with authority? She knew she
was immutable, unchangeable, she was not afraid for her own
being. She was only afraid of all that was not herself. It
pressed round her, it came to her and took part in her, in form
of her man, this vast, resounding, alien world which was not
herself. And he had so many weapons, he might strike from so
many sides.

When he came in at the door, his heart was blazed with pity
and tenderness, she looked so lost and forlorn and young. She
glanced up, afraid. And she was surprised to see him,
shining-faced, clear and beautiful in his movements, as if he
were clarified. And a startled pang of fear, and shame of
herself went through her.

They waited for each other to speak.

"Do you want to eat anything?" she said.

"I'll get it myself," he answered, not wanting her to serve
him. But she brought out food. And it pleased him she did it for
him. He was again a bright lord.

"I went to Nottingham," he said mildly.

"To your mother?" she asked, in a flash of contempt.

"No—I didn't go home."

"Who did you go to see?"

"I went to see nobody."

"Then why did you go to Nottingham?"

"I went because I wanted to go."

He was getting angry that she again rebuffed him when he was
so clear and shining.

"And who did you see?"

"I saw nobody."

"Nobody?"

"No—who should I see?"

"You saw nobody you knew?"

"No, I didn't," he replied irritably.

She believed him, and her mood became cold.

"I bought a book," he said, handing her the propitiatory
volume.

She idly looked at the pictures. Beautiful, the pure women,
with their clear-dropping gowns. Her heart became colder. What
did they mean to him?

He sat and waited for her. She bent over the book.

"Aren't they nice?" he said, his voice roused and glad. Her
blood flushed, but she did not lift her head.

"Yes," she said. In spite of herself, she was compelled by
him. He was strange, attractive, exerting some power over
her.

He came over to her, and touched her delicately. Her heart
beat with wild passion, wild raging passion. But she resisted as
yet. It was always the unknown, always the unknown, and she
clung fiercely to her known self. But the rising flood carried
her away.

They loved each other to transport again, passionately and
fully.

"Isn't it more wonderful than ever?" she asked him, radiant
like a newly opened flower, with tears like dew.

He held her closer. He was strange and abstracted.

"It is always more wonderful," she asseverated, in a glad,
child's voice, remembering her fear, and not quite cleared of it
yet.

So it went on continually, the recurrence of love and
conflict between them. One day it seemed as if everything was
shattered, all life spoiled, ruined, desolate and laid waste.
The next day it was all marvellous again, just marvellous. One
day she thought she would go mad from his very presence, the
sound of his drinking was detestable to her. The next day she
loved and rejoiced in the way he crossed the floor, he was sun,
moon and stars in one.

She fretted, however, at last, over the lack of stability.
When the perfect hours came back, her heart did not forget that
they would pass away again. She was uneasy. The surety, the
surety, the inner surety, the confidence in the abidingness of
love: that was what she wanted. And that she did not get. She
knew also that he had not got it.

Nevertheless it was a marvellous world, she was for the most
part lost in the marvellousness of it. Even her great woes were
marvellous to her.

She could be very happy. And she wanted to be happy. She
resented it when he made her unhappy. Then she could kill him,
cast him out. Many days, she waited for the hour when he would
be gone to work. Then the flow of her life, which he seemed to
damn up, was let loose, and she was free. She was free, she was
full of delight. Everything delighted her. She took up the rug
and went to shake it in the garden. Patches of snow were on the
fields, the air was light. She heard the ducks shouting on the
pond, she saw them charge and sail across the water as if they
were setting off on an invasion of the world. She watched the
rough horses, one of which was clipped smooth on the belly, so
that he wore a jacket and long stockings of brown fur, stand
kissing each other in the wintry morning by the church-yard
wall. Everything delighted her, now he was gone, the insulator,
the obstruction removed, the world was all hers, in connection
with her.

She was joyfully active. Nothing pleased her more than to
hang out the washing in a high wind that came full-butt over the
round of the hill, tearing the wet garments out of her hands,
making flap-flap-flap of the waving stuff. She laughed and
struggled and grew angry. But she loved her solitary days.

Then he came home at night, and she knitted her brows because
of some endless contest between them. As he stood in the doorway
her heart changed. It steeled itself. The laughter and zest of
the day disappeared from her. She was stiffened.

They fought an unknown battle, unconsciously. Still they were
in love with each other, the passion was there. But the passion
was consumed in a battle. And the deep, fierce unnamed battle
went on. Everything glowed intensely about them, the world had
put off its clothes and was awful, with new, primal
nakedness.

Sunday came when the strange spell was cast over her by him.
Half she loved it. She was becoming more like him. All the
week-days, there was a glint of sky and fields, the little
church seemed to babble away to the cottages the morning
through. But on Sundays, when he stayed at home, a
deeply-coloured, intense gloom seemed to gather on the face of
the earth, the church seemed to fill itself with shadow, to
become big, a universe to her, there was a burning of blue and
ruby, a sound of worship about her. And when the doors were
opened, and she came out into the world, it was a world
new—created, she stepped into the resurrection of the
world, her heart beating to the memory of the darkness and the
Passion.

If, as very often, they went to the Marsh for tea on Sundays,
then she regained another, lighter world, that had never known
the gloom and the stained glass and the ecstasy of chanting. Her
husband was obliterated, she was with her father again, who was
so fresh and free and all daylight. Her husband, with his
intensity and his darkness, was obliterated. She left him, she
forgot him, she accepted her father.

Yet, as she went home again with the young man, she put her
hand on his arm tentatively, a little bit ashamed, her hand
pleaded that he would not hold it against her, her recusancy.
But he was obscured. He seemed to become blind, as if he were
not there with her.

Then she was afraid. She wanted him. When he was oblivious of
her, she almost went mad with fear. For she had become so
vulnerable, so exposed. She was in touch so intimately. All
things about her had become intimate, she had known them near
and lovely, like presences hovering upon her. What if they
should all go hard and separate again, standing back from her
terrible and distinct, and she, having known them, should be at
their mercy?

This frightened her. Always, her husband was to her the
unknown to which she was delivered up. She was a flower that has
been tempted forth into blossom, and has no retreat. He had her
nakedness in his power. And who was he, what was he? A blind
thing, a dark force, without knowledge. She wanted to preserve
herself.

Then she gathered him to herself again and was satisfied for
a moment. But as time went on, she began to realize more and
more that he did not alter, that he was something dark, alien to
herself. She had thought him just the bright reflex of herself.
As the weeks and months went by she realized that he was a dark
opposite to her, that they were opposites, not complements.

He did not alter, he remained separately himself, and he
seemed to expect her to be part of himself, the extension of his
will. She felt him trying to gain power over her, without
knowing her. What did he want? Was he going to bully her?

What did she want herself? She answered herself, that she
wanted to be happy, to be natural, like the sunlight and the
busy daytime. And, at the bottom of her soul, she felt he wanted
her to be dark, unnatural. Sometimes, when he seemed like the
darkness covering and smothering her, she revolted almost in
horror, and struck at him. She struck at him, and made him
bleed, and he became wicked. Because she dreaded him and held
him in horror, he became wicked, he wanted to destroy. And then
the fight between them was cruel.

She began to tremble. He wanted to impose himself on her. And
he began to shudder. She wanted to desert him, to leave him a
prey to the open, with the unclean dogs of the darkness setting
on to devour him. He must beat her, and make her stay with him.
Whereas she fought to keep herself free of him.

They went their ways now shadowed and stained with blood,
feeling the world far off, unable to give help. Till she began
to get tired. After a certain point, she became impassive,
detached utterly from him. He was always ready to burst out
murderously against her. Her soul got up and left him, she went
her way. Nevertheless in her apparent blitheness, that made his
soul black with opposition, she trembled as if she bled.

And ever and again, the pure love came in sunbeams between
them, when she was like a flower in the sun to him, so
beautiful, so shining, so intensely dear that he could scarcely
bear it. Then as if his soul had six wings of bliss he stood
absorbed in praise, feeling the radiance from the Almighty beat
through him like a pulse, as he stood in the upright flame of
praise, transmitting the pulse of Creation.

And ever and again he appeared to her as the dread flame of
power. Sometimes, when he stood in the doorway, his face lit up,
he seemed like an Annunciation to her, her heart beat fast. And
she watched him, suspended. He had a dark, burning being that
she dreaded and resisted. She was subject to him as to the Angel
of the Presence. She waited upon him and heard his will, and she
trembled in his service.

Then all this passed away. Then he loved her for her
childishness and for her strangeness to him, for the wonder of
her soul which was different from his soul, and which made him
genuine when he would be false. And she loved him for the way he
sat loosely in a chair, or for the way he came through a door
with his face open and eager. She loved his ringing, eager
voice, and the touch of the unknown about him, his absolute
simplicity.

Yet neither of them was quite satisfied. He felt, somewhere,
that she did not respect him. She only respected him as far as
he was related to herself. For what he was, beyond her, she had
no care. She did not care for what he represented in himself. It
is true, he did not know himself what he represented. But
whatever it was she did not really honour it. She did no service
to his work as a lace-designer, nor to himself as bread-winner.
Because he went down to the office and worked every
day—that entitled him to no respect or regard from her, he
knew. Rather she despised him for it. And he almost loved her
for this, though at first it maddened him like an insult.

What was much deeper, she soon came to combat his deepest
feelings. What he thought about life and about society and
mankind did not matter very much to her: he was right enough to
be insignificant. This was again galling to him. She would judge
beyond him on these things. But at length he came to accept her
judgments, discovering them as if they were his own. It was not
here the deep trouble lay. The deep root of his enmity lay in
the fact that she jeered at his soul. He was inarticulate and
stupid in thought. But to some things he clung passionately. He
loved the Church. If she tried to get out of him, what he
believed, then they were both soon in a white rage.

Did he believe the water turned to wine at Cana? She would
drive him to the thing as a historical fact: so much
rain-water-look at it—can it become grape-juice, wine? For
an instant, he saw with the clear eyes of the mind and said no,
his clear mind, answering her for a moment, rejected the idea.
And immediately his whole soul was crying in a mad, inchoate
hatred against this violation of himself. It was true for him.
His mind was extinguished again at once, his blood was up. In
his blood and bones, he wanted the scene, the wedding, the water
brought forward from the firkins as red wine: and Christ saying
to His mother: "Woman, what have I to do with thee?—mine
hour is not yet come."

And then:

"His mother saith unto the servants, 'Whatsoever he saith
unto you, do it.'"

Brangwen loved it, with his bones and blood he loved it, he
could not let it go. Yet she forced him to let it go. She hated
his blind attachments.

Water, natural water, could it suddenly and unnaturally turn
into wine, depart from its being and at haphazard take on
another being? Ah no, he knew it was wrong.

She became again the palpitating, hostile child, hateful,
putting things to destruction. He became mute and dead. His own
being gave him the lie. He knew it was so: wine was wine, water
was water, for ever: the water had not become wine. The miracle
was not a real fact. She seemed to be destroying him. He went
out, dark and destroyed, his soul running its blood. And he
tasted of death. Because his life was formed in these
unquestioned concepts.

She, desolate again as she had been when she was a child,
went away and sobbed. She did not care, she did not care whether
the water had turned to wine or not. Let him believe it if he
wanted to. But she knew she had won. And an ashy desolation came
over her.

They were ashenly miserable for some time. Then the life
began to come back. He was nothing if not dogged. He thought
again of the chapter of St. John. There was a great biting pang.
"But thou hast kept the good wine until now." "The best wine!"
The young man's heart responded in a craving, in a triumph,
although the knowledge that it was not true in fact bit at him
like a weasel in his heart. Which was stronger, the pain of the
denial, or the desire for affirmation? He was stubborn in
spirit, and abode by his desire. But he would not any more
affirm the miracles as true.

Very well, it was not true, the water had not turned into
wine. The water had not turned into wine. But for all that he
would live in his soul as if the water had turned into
wine. For truth of fact, it had not. But for his soul, it
had.

"Whether it turned into wine or whether it didn't," he said,
"it doesn't bother me. I take it for what it is."

"And what is it?" she asked, quickly, hopefully.

"It's the Bible," he said.

That answer enraged her, and she despised him. She did not
actively question the Bible herself. But he drove her to
contempt.

And yet he did not care about the Bible, the written letter.
Although he could not satisfy her, yet she knew of herself that
he had something real. He was not a dogmatist. He did not
believe in fact that the water turned into wine. He did
not want to make a fact out of it. Indeed, his attitude was
without criticism. It was purely individual. He took that which
was of value to him from the Written Word, he added to his
spirit. His mind he let sleep.

And she was bitter against him, that he let his mind sleep.
That which was human, belonged to mankind, he would not exert.
He cared only for himself. He was no Christian. Above all,
Christ had asserted the brotherhood of man.

She, almost against herself, clung to the worship of the
human knowledge. Man must die in the body, but in his knowledge
he was immortal. Such, somewhere, was her belief, quite obscure
and unformulated. She believed in the omnipotence of the human
mind.

He, on the other hand, blind as a subterranean thing, just
ignored the human mind and ran after his own dark-souled
desires, following his own tunnelling nose. She felt often she
must suffocate. And she fought him off.

Then he, knowing he was blind, fought madly back again,
frantic in sensual fear. He did foolish things. He asserted
himself on his rights, he arrogated the old position of master
of the house.

"You've a right to do as I want," he cried.

"Fool!" she answered. "Fool!"

"I'll let you know who's master," he cried.

"Fool!" she answered. "Fool! I've known my own father, who
could put a dozen of you in his pipe and push them down with his
finger-end. Don't I know what a fool you are!"

He knew himself what a fool he was, and was flayed by the
knowledge. Yet he went on trying to steer the ship of their dual
life. He asserted his position as the captain of the ship. And
captain and ship bored her. He wanted to loom important as
master of one of the innumerable domestic craft that make up the
great fleet of society. It seemed to her a ridiculous armada of
tubs jostling in futility. She felt no belief in it. She jeered
at him as master of the house, master of their dual life. And he
was black with shame and rage. He knew, with shame, how her
father had been a man without arrogating any authority.

He had gone on the wrong tack, and he felt it hard to give up
the expedition. There was great surging and shame. Then he
yielded. He had given up the master-of-the-house idea.

There was something he wanted, nevertheless, some form of
mastery. Ever and anon, after his collapses into the petty and
the shameful, he rose up again, and, stubborn in spirit, strong
in his power to start afresh, set out once more in his male
pride of being to fulfil the hidden passion of his spirit.

It began well, but it ended always in war between them, till
they were both driven almost to madness. He said, she did not
respect him. She laughed in hollow scorn of this. For her it was
enough that she loved him.

"Respect what?" she asked.

But he always answered the wrong thing. And though she
cudgelled her brains, she could not come at it.

"Why don't you go on with your wood-carving?" she said. "Why
don't you finish your Adam and Eve?"

But she did not care for the Adam and Eve, and he never put
another stroke to it. She jeered at the Eve, saying, "She is
like a little marionette. Why is she so small? You've made Adam
as big as God, and Eve like a doll."

"It is impudence to say that Woman was made out of Man's
body," she continued, "when every man is born of woman. What
impudence men have, what arrogance!"

In a rage one day, after trying to work on the board, and
failing, so that his belly was a flame of nausea, he chopped up
the whole panel and put it on the fire. She did not know. He
went about for some days very quiet and subdued after it.

"Where is the Adam and Eve board?" she asked him.

"Burnt."

She looked at him.

"But your carving?"

"I burned it."

"When?"

She did not believe him.

"On Friday night."

"When I was at the Marsh?"

"Yes."

She said no more.

Then, when he had gone to work, she wept for a whole day, and
was much chastened in spirit. So that a new, fragile flame of
love came out of the ashes of this last pain.

Directly, it occurred to her that she was with child. There
was a great trembling of wonder and anticipation through her
soul. She wanted a child. Not that she loved babies so much,
though she was touched by all young things. But she wanted to
bear children. And a certain hunger in her heart wanted to unite
her husband with herself, in a child.

She wanted a son. She felt, a son would be everything. She
wanted to tell her husband. But it was such a trembling,
intimate thing to tell him, and he was at this time hard and
unresponsive. So that she went away and wept. It was such a
waste of a beautiful opportunity, such a frost that nipped in
the bud one of the beautiful moments of her life. She went about
heavy and tremulous with her secret, wanting to touch him, oh,
most delicately, and see his face, dark and sensitive, attend to
her news. She waited and waited for him to become gentle and
still towards her. But he was always harsh and he bullied
her.

So that the buds shrivelled from her confidence, she was
chilled. She went down to the Marsh.

"Well," said her father, looking at her and seeing her at the
first glance, "what's amiss wi' you now?"

The tears came at the touch of his careful love.

"Nothing," she said.

"Can't you hit it off, you two?" he said.

"He's so obstinate," she quivered; but her soul was obdurate
itself.

"Ay, an' I know another who's all that," said her father.

She was silent.

"You don't want to make yourselves miserable," said her
father; "all about nowt."

"He isn't miserable," she said.

"I'll back my life, if you can do nowt else, you can make him
as miserable as a dog. You'd be a dab hand at that, my
lass."

"I do nothing to make him miserable," she retorted.

"Oh no—oh no! A packet o' butterscotch, you are."

She laughed a little.

"You mustn't think I want him to be miserable," she
cried. "I don't."

"We quite readily believe it," retorted Brangwen. "Neither do
you intend him to be hopping for joy like a fish in a pond."

This made her think. She was rather surprised to find that
she did not intend her husband to be hopping for joy like
a fish in a pond.

Her mother came, and they all sat down to tea, talking
casually.

"Remember, child," said her mother, "that everything is not
waiting for your hand just to take or leave. You mustn't
expect it. Between two people, the love itself is the important
thing, and that is neither you nor him. It is a third thing you
must create. You mustn't expect it to be just your way."

"Ha-nor do I. If I did I should soon find my mistake out. If
I put my hand out to take anything, my hand is very soon
bitten, I can tell you."

"Then you must mind where you put your hand," said her
father.

Anna was rather indignant that they took the tragedy of her
young married life with such equanimity.

"You love the man right enough," said her father, wrinkling
his forehead in distress. "That's all as counts."

"I do love him, more shame to him," she cried. "I want
to tell him—I've been waiting for four days now to tell
him——" her face began to quiver, the tears came. Her
parents watched her in silence. She did not go on.

"Tell him what?" said her father.

"That we're going to have an infant," she sobbed, "and he's
never, never let me, not once, every time I've come to him, he's
been horrid to me, and I wanted to tell him, I did. And he won't
let me—he's cruel to me."

She sobbed as if her heart would break. Her mother went and
comforted her, put her arms round her, and held her close. Her
father sat with a queer, wrinkled brow, and was rather paler
than usual. His heart went tense with hatred of his
son-in-law.

So that, when the tale was sobbed out, and comfort
administered and tea sipped, and something like calm restored to
the little circle, the thought of Will Brangwen's entry was not
pleasantly entertained.

Tilly was set to watch out for him as he passed by on his way
home. The little party at table heard the woman's servant's
shrill call:

"You've got to come in, Will. Anna's here."

After a few moments, the youth entered.

"Are you stopping?" he asked in his hard, harsh voice.

He seemed like a blade of destruction standing there. She
quivered to tears.

"Sit you down," said Tom Brangwen, "an' take a bit off your
length."

Will Brangwen sat down. He felt something strange in the
atmosphere. He was dark browed, but his eyes had the keen,
intent, sharp look, as if he could only see in the distance;
which was a beauty in him, and which made Anna so angry.

"Why does he always deny me?" she said to herself. "Why is it
nothing to him, what I am?"

And Tom Brangwen, blue-eyed and warm, sat in opposition to
the youth.

"How long are you stopping?" the young husband asked his
wife.

"Not very long," she said.

"Get your tea, lad," said Tom Brangwen. "Are you itchin' to
be off the moment you enter?"

They talked of trivial things. Through the open door the
level rays of sunset poured in, shining on the floor. A grey hen
appeared stepping swiftly in the doorway, pecking, and the light
through her comb and her wattles made an oriflamme tossed here
and there, as she went, her grey body was like a ghost.

Anna, watching, threw scraps of bread, and she felt the child
flame within her. She seemed to remember again forgotten,
burning, far-off things.

"Where was I born, mother?" she asked.

"In London."

"And was my father"—she spoke of him as if he were
merely a strange name: she could never connect herself with
him—"was he dark?"

"He had dark-brown hair and dark eyes and a fresh colouring.
He went bald, rather bald, when he was quite young," replied her
mother, also as if telling a tale which was just old
imagination.

"Was he good-looking?"

"Yes—he was very good-looking—rather small. I
have never seen an Englishman who looked like him."

"Why?"

"He was"—the mother made a quick, running movement with
her hands—"his figure was alive and changing—it was
never fixed. He was not in the least steady—like a running
stream."

It flashed over the youth—Anna too was like a running
stream. Instantly he was in love with her again.

Tom Brangwen was frightened. His heart always filled with
fear, fear of the unknown, when he heard his women speak of
their bygone men as of strangers they had known in passing and
had taken leave of again.

In the room, there came a silence and a singleness over all
their hearts. They were separate people with separate destinies.
Why should they seek each to lay violent hands of claim on the
other?

The young people went home as a sharp little moon was setting
in the dusk of spring. Tufts of trees hovered in the upper air,
the little church pricked up shadowily at the top of the hill,
the earth was a dark blue shadow.

She put her hand lightly on his arm, out of her far distance.
And out of the distance, he felt her touch him. They walked on,
hand in hand, along opposite horizons, touching across the dusk.
There was a sound of thrushes calling in the dark blue
twilight.

"I think we are going to have an infant, Bill," she said,
from far off.

He trembled, and his fingers tightened on hers.

"Why?" he asked, his heart beating. "You don't know?"

"I do," she said.

They continued without saying any more, walking along
opposite horizons, hand in hand across the intervening space,
two separate people. And he trembled as if a wind blew on to him
in strong gusts, out of the unseen. He was afraid. He was afraid
to know he was alone. For she seemed fulfilled and separate and
sufficient in her half of the world. He could not bear to know
that he was cut off. Why could he not be always one with her? It
was he who had given her the child. Why could she not be with
him, one with him? Why must he be set in this separateness, why
could she not be with him, close, close, as one with him? She
must be one with him.

He held her fingers tightly in his own. She did not know what
he was thinking. The blaze of light on her heart was too
beautiful and dazzling, from the conception in her womb. She
walked glorified, and the sound of the thrushes, of the trains
in the valley, of the far-off, faint noises of the town, were
her "Magnificat".

But he was struggling in silence. It seemed as though there
were before him a solid wall of darkness that impeded him and
suffocated him and made him mad. He wanted her to come to him,
to complete him, to stand before him so that his eyes did not,
should not meet the naked darkness. Nothing mattered to him but
that she should come and complete him. For he was ridden by the
awful sense of his own limitation. It was as if he ended
uncompleted, as yet uncreated on the darkness, and he wanted her
to come and liberate him into the whole.

But she was complete in herself, and he was ashamed of his
need, his helpless need of her. His need, and his shame of need,
weighed on him like a madness. Yet still he was quiet and
gentle, in reverence of her conception, and because she was with
child by him.

And she was happy in showers of sunshine. She loved her
husband, as a presence, as a grateful condition. But for the
moment her need was fulfilled, and now she wanted only to hold
her husband by the hand in sheer happiness, without taking
thought, only being glad.

He had various folios of reproductions, and among them a
cheap print from Fra Angelico's "Entry of the Blessed into
Paradise". This filled Anna with bliss. The beautiful, innocent
way in which the Blessed held each other by the hand as they
moved towards the radiance, the real, real, angelic melody, made
her weep with happiness. The floweriness, the beams of light,
the linking of hands, was almost too much for her, too
innocent.

Day after day came shining through the door of Paradise, day
after day she entered into the brightness. The child in her
shone till she herself was a beam of sunshine; and how lovely
was the sunshine that loitered and wandered out of doors, where
the catkins on the big hazel bushes at the end of the garden
hung in their shaken, floating aureole, where little fumes like
fire burst out from the black yew trees as a bird settled
clinging to the branches. One day bluebells were along the
hedge-bottoms, then cowslips twinkled like manna, golden and
evanescent on the meadows. She was full of a rich drowsiness and
loneliness. How happy she was, how gorgeous it was to live: to
have known herself, her husband, the passion of love and
begetting; and to know that all this lived and waited and burned
on around her, a terrible purifying fire, through which she had
passed for once to come to this peace of golden radiance, when
she was with child, and innocent, and in love with her husband
and with all the many angels hand in hand. She lifted her throat
to the breeze that came across the fields, and she felt it
handling her like sisters fondling her, she drank it in perfume
of cowslips and of apple-blossoms.

And in all the happiness a black shadow, shy, wild, a beast
of prey, roamed and vanished from sight, and like strands of
gossamer blown across her eyes, there was a dread for her.

She was afraid when he came home at night. As yet, her fear
never spoke, the shadow never rushed upon her. He was gentle,
humble, he kept himself withheld. His hands were delicate upon
her, and she loved them. But there ran through her the thrill,
crisp as pain, for she felt the darkness and other-world still
in his soft, sheathed hands.

But the summer drifted in with the silence of a miracle, she
was almost always alone. All the while, went on the long, lovely
drowsiness, the maidenblush roses in the garden were all shed,
washed away in a pouring rain, summer drifted into autumn, and
the long, vague, golden days began to close. Crimson clouds
fumed about the west, and as night came on, all the sky was
fuming and steaming, and the moon, far above the swiftness of
vapours, was white, bleared, the night was uneasy. Suddenly the
moon would appear at a clear window in the sky, looking down
from far above, like a captive. And Anna did not sleep. There
was a strange, dark tension about her husband.

She became aware that he was trying to force his will upon
her, something, there was something he wanted, as he lay there
dark and tense. And her soul sighed in weariness.

Everything was so vague and lovely, and he wanted to wake her
up to the hard, hostile reality. She drew back in resistance.
Still he said nothing. But she felt his power persisting on her,
till she became aware of the strain, she cried out against the
exhaustion. He was forcing her, he was forcing her. And she
wanted so much the joy and the vagueness and the innocence of
her pregnancy. She did not want his bitter-corrosive love, she
did not want it poured into her, to burn her. Why must she have
it? Why, oh, why was he not content, contained?

She sat many hours by the window, in those days when he drove
her most with the black constraint of his will, and she watched
the rain falling on the yew trees. She was not sad, only
wistful, blanched. The child under her heart was a perpetual
warmth. And she was sure. The pressure was only upon her from
the outside, her soul had no stripes.

Yet in her heart itself was always this same strain, tense,
anxious. She was not safe, she was always exposed, she was
always attacked. There was a yearning in her for a fulness of
peace and blessedness. What a heavy yearning it was—so
heavy.

She knew, vaguely, that all the time he was not satisfied,
all the time he was trying to force something from her. Ah, how
she wished she could succeed with him, in her own way! He was
there, so inevitable. She lived in him also. And how she wanted
to be at peace with him, at peace. She loved him. She would give
him love, pure love. With a strange, rapt look in her face, she
awaited his homecoming that night.

Then, when he came, she rose with her hands full of love, as
of flowers, radiant, innocent. A dark spasm crossed his face. As
she watched, her face shining and flower-like with innocent
love, his face grew dark and tense, the cruelty gathered in his
brows, his eyes turned aside, she saw the whites of his eyes as
he looked aside from her. She waited, touching him with her
hands. But from his body through her hands came the
bitter-corrosive shock of his passion upon her, destroying her
in blossom. She shrank. She rose from her knees and went away
from him, to preserve herself. And it was great pain to her.

To him also it was agony. He saw the glistening, flower-like
love in her face, and his heart was black because he did not
want it. Not this—not this. He did not want flowery
innocence. He was unsatisfied. The rage and storm of
unsatisfaction tormented him ceaselessly. Why had she not
satisfied him? He had satisfied her. She was satisfied, at
peace, innocent round the doors of her own paradise.

And he was unsatisfied, unfulfilled, he raged in torment,
wanting, wanting. It was for her to satisfy him: then let her do
it. Let her not come with flowery handfuls of innocent love. He
would throw these aside and trample the flowers to nothing. He
would destroy her flowery, innocent bliss. Was he not entitled
to satisfaction from her, and was not his heart all raging
desire, his soul a black torment of unfulfilment. Let it be
fulfilled in him, then, as it was fulfilled in her. He had given
her her fulfilment. Let her rise up and do her part.

He was cruel to her. But all the time he was ashamed. And
being ashamed, he was more cruel. For he was ashamed that he
could not come to fulfilment without her. And he could not. And
she would not heed him. He was shackled and in darkness of
torment.

She beseeched him to work again, to do his wood-carving. But
his soul was too black. He had destroyed his panel of Adam and
Eve. He could not begin again, least of all now, whilst he was
in this condition.

For her there was no final release, since he could not be
liberated from himself. Strange and amorphous, she must go
yearning on through the trouble, like a warm, glowing cloud
blown in the middle of a storm. She felt so rich, in her warm
vagueness, that her soul cried out on him, because he harried
her and wanted to destroy her.

She had her moments of exaltation still, re-births of old
exaltations. As she sat by her bedroom window, watching the
steady rain, her spirit was somewhere far off.

She sat in pride and curious pleasure. When there was no one
to exult with, and the unsatisfied soul must dance and play,
then one danced before the Unknown.

Suddenly she realized that this was what she wanted to do.
Big with child as she was, she danced there in the bedroom by
herself, lifting her hands and her body to the Unseen, to the
unseen Creator who had chosen her, to Whom she belonged.

She would not have had anyone know. She danced in secret, and
her soul rose in bliss. She danced in secret before the Creator,
she took off her clothes and danced in the pride of her
bigness.

It surprised her, when it was over. She was shrinking and
afraid. To what was she now exposed? She half wanted to tell her
husband. Yet she shrank from him.

All the time she ran on by herself. She liked the story of
David, who danced before the Lord, and uncovered himself
exultingly. Why should he uncover himself to Michal, a common
woman? He uncovered himself to the Lord.

"Thou comest to me with a sword and a spear and a shield, but
I come to thee in the name of the Lord:—for the battle is
the Lord's, and he will give you into our hands."

Her heart rang to the words. She walked in her pride. And her
battle was her own Lord's, her husband was delivered over.

In these days she was oblivious of him. Who was he, to come
against her? No, he was not even the Philistine, the Giant. He
was like Saul proclaiming his own kingship. She laughed in her
heart. Who was he, proclaiming his kingship? She laughed in her
heart with pride.

And she had to dance in exultation beyond him. Because he was
in the house, she had to dance before her Creator in exemption
from the man. On a Saturday afternoon, when she had a fire in
the bedroom, again she took off her things and danced, lifting
her knees and her hands in a slow, rhythmic exulting. He was in
the house, so her pride was fiercer. She would dance his
nullification, she would dance to her unseen Lord. She was
exalted over him, before the Lord.

She heard him coming up the stairs, and she flinched. She
stood with the firelight on her ankles and feet, naked in the
shadowy, late afternoon, fastening up her hair. He was startled.
He stood in the doorway, his brows black and lowering.

"What are you doing?" he said, gratingly. "You'll catch a
cold."

And she lifted her hands and danced again, to annul him, the
light glanced on her knees as she made her slow, fine movements
down the far side of the room, across the firelight. He stood
away near the door in blackness of shadow, watching, transfixed.
And with slow, heavy movements she swayed backwards and
forwards, like a full ear of corn, pale in the dusky afternoon,
threading before the firelight, dancing his non-existence,
dancing herself to the Lord, to exultation.

He watched, and his soul burned in him. He turned aside, he
could not look, it hurt his eyes. Her fine limbs lifted and
lifted, her hair was sticking out all fierce, and her belly,
big, strange, terrifying, uplifted to the Lord. Her face was
rapt and beautiful, she danced exulting before her Lord, and
knew no man.

It hurt him as he watched as if he were at the stake. He felt
he was being burned alive. The strangeness, the power of her in
her dancing consumed him, he was burned, he could not grasp, he
could not understand. He waited obliterated. Then his eyes
became blind to her, he saw her no more. And through the
unseeing veil between them he called to her, in his jarring
voice:

"What are you doing that for?"

"Go away," she said. "Let me dance by myself."

"That isn't dancing," he said harshly. "What do you want to
do that for?"

"I don't do it for you," she said. "You go away."

Her strange, lifted belly, big with his child! Had he no
right to be there? He felt his presence a violation. Yet he had
his right to be there. He went and sat on the bed.

She stopped dancing, and confronted him, again lifting her
slim arms and twisting at her hair. Her nakedness hurt her,
opposed to him.

"I can do as I like in my bedroom," she cried. "Why do you
interfere with me?"

And she slipped on a dressing-gown and crouched before the
fire. He was more at ease now she was covered up. The vision of
her tormented him all the days of his life, as she had been
then, a strange, exalted thing having no relation to
himself.

After this day, the door seemed to shut on his mind. His brow
shut and became impervious. His eyes ceased to see, his hands
were suspended. Within himself his will was coiled like a beast,
hidden under the darkness, but always potent, working.

At first she went on blithely enough with him shut down
beside her. But then his spell began to take hold of her. The
dark, seething potency of him, the power of a creature that lies
hidden and exerts its will to the destruction of the
free-running creature, as the tiger lying in the darkness of the
leaves steadily enforces the fall and death of the light
creatures that drink by the waterside in the morning, gradually
began to take effect on her. Though he lay there in his darkness
and did not move, yet she knew he lay waiting for her. She felt
his will fastening on her and pulling her down, even whilst he
was silent and obscure.

She found that, in all her outgoings and her incomings, he
prevented her. Gradually she realized that she was being borne
down by him, borne down by the clinging, heavy weight of him,
that he was pulling her down as a leopard clings to a wild cow
and exhausts her and pulls her down.

Gradually she realized that her life, her freedom, was
sinking under the silent grip of his physical will. He wanted
her in his power. He wanted to devour her at leisure, to have
her. At length she realized that her sleep was a long ache and a
weariness and exhaustion, because of his will fastened upon her,
as he lay there beside her, during the night.

She realized it all, and there came a momentous pause, a
pause in her swift running, a moment's suspension in her life,
when she was lost.

Then she turned fiercely on him, and fought him. He was not
to do this to her, it was monstrous. What horrible hold did he
want to have over her body? Why did he want to drag her down,
and kill her spirit? Why did he want to deny her spirit? Why did
he deny her spirituality, hold her for a body only? And was he
to claim her carcase?

Some vast, hideous darkness he seemed to represent to
her.

"What do you do to me?" she cried. "What beastly thing do you
do to me? You put a horrible pressure on my head, you don't let
me sleep, you don't let me live. Every moment of your life you
are doing something to me, something horrible, that destroys me.
There is something horrible in you, something dark and beastly
in your will. What do you want of me? What do you want to do to
me?"

All the blood in his body went black and powerful and
corrosive as he heard her. Black and blind with hatred of her he
was. He was in a very black hell, and could not escape.

He hated her for what she said. Did he not give her
everything, was she not everything to him? And the shame was a
bitter fire in him, that she was everything to him, that he had
nothing but her. And then that she should taunt him with it,
that he could not escape! The fire went black in his veins. For
try as he might, he could not escape. She was everything to him,
she was his life and his derivation. He depended on her. If she
were taken away, he would collapse as a house from which the
central pillar is removed.

And she hated him, because he depended on her so utterly. He
was horrible to her. She wanted to thrust him off, to set him
apart. It was horrible that he should cleave to her, so close,
so close, like leopard that had leapt on her, and fastened.

He went on from day to day in a blackness of rage and shame
and frustration. How he tortured himself, to be able to get away
from her. But he could not. She was as the rock on which he
stood, with deep, heaving water all round, and he was unable to
swim. He must take his stand on her, he must depend on
her.

What had he in life, save her? Nothing. The rest was a great
heaving flood. The terror of the night of heaving, overwhelming
flood, which was his vision of life without her, was too much
for him. He clung to her fiercely and abjectly.

And she beat him off, she beat him off. Where could he turn,
like a swimmer in a dark sea, beaten off from his hold, whither
could he turn? He wanted to leave her, he wanted to be able to
leave her. For his soul's sake, for his manhood's sake, he must
be able to leave her.

But for what? She was the ark, and the rest of the world was
flood. The only tangible, secure thing was the woman. He could
leave her only for another woman. And where was the other woman,
and who was the other woman? Besides, he would be just in the
same state. Another woman would be woman, the case would be the
same.

Why was she the all, the everything, why must he live only
through her, why must he sink if he were detached from her? Why
must he cleave to her in a frenzy as for his very life?

The only other way to leave her was to die. The only straight
way to leave her was to die. His dark, raging soul knew that.
But he had no desire for death.

Why could he not leave her? Why could he not throw himself
into the hidden water to live or die, as might be? He could not,
he could not. But supposing he went away, right away, and found
work, and had a lodging again. He could be again as he had been
before.

But he knew he could not. A woman, he must have a woman. And
having a woman, he must be free of her. It would be the same
position. For he could not be free of her.

For how can a man stand, unless he have something sure under
his feet. Can a man tread the unstable water all his life, and
call that standing? Better give in and drown at once.

And upon what could he stand, save upon a woman? Was he then
like the old man of the seas, impotent to move save upon the
back of another life? Was he impotent, or a cripple, or a
defective, or a fragment?

It was black, mad, shameful torture, the frenzy of fear, the
frenzy of desire, and the horrible, grasping back-wash of
shame.

What was he afraid of? Why did life, without Anna, seem to
him just a horrible welter, everything jostling in a
meaningless, dark, fathomless flood? Why, if Anna left him even
for a week, did he seem to be clinging like a madman to the edge
of reality, and slipping surely, surely into the flood of
unreality that would drown him. This horrible slipping into
unreality drove him mad, his soul screamed with fear and
agony.

Yet she was pushing him off from her, pushing him away,
breaking his fingers from their hold on her, persistently,
ruthlessly. He wanted her to have pity. And sometimes for a
moment she had pity. But she always began again, thrusting him
off, into the deep water, into the frenzy and agony of
uncertainty.

She became like a fury to him, without any sense of him. Her
eyes were bright with a cold, unmoving hatred. Then his heart
seemed to die in its last fear. She might push him off into the
deeps.

She would not sleep with him any more. She said he destroyed
her sleep. Up started all his frenzy and madness of fear and
suffering. She drove him away. Like a cowed, lurking devil he
was driven off, his mind working cunningly against her, devising
evil for her. But she drove him off. In his moments of intense
suffering, she seemed to him inconceivable, a monster, the
principle of cruelty.

However her pity might give way for moments, she was hard and
cold as a jewel. He must be put off from her, she must sleep
alone. She made him a bed in the small room.

And he lay there whipped, his soul whipped almost to death,
yet unchanged. He lay in agony of suffering, thrown back into
unreality, like a man thrown overboard into a sea, to swim till
he sinks, because there is no hold, only a wide, weltering
sea.

He did not sleep, save for the white sleep when a thin veil
is drawn over the mind. It was not sleep. He was awake, and he
was not awake. He could not be alone. He needed to be able to
put his arms round her. He could not bear the empty space
against his breast, where she used to be. He could not bear it.
He felt as if he were suspended in space, held there by the grip
of his will. If he relaxed his will would fall, fall through
endless space, into the bottomless pit, always falling,
will-less, helpless, non-existent, just dropping to extinction,
falling till the fire of friction had burned out, like a falling
star, then nothing, nothing, complete nothing.

He rose in the morning grey and unreal. And she seemed fond
of him again, she seemed to make up to him a little.

"I slept well," she said, with her slightly false brightness.
"Did you?"

"All right," he answered.

He would never tell her.

For three or four nights he lay alone through the white
sleep, his will unchanged, unchanged, still tense, fixed in its
grip. Then, as if she were revived and free to be fond of him
again, deluded by his silence and seeming acquiescence, moved
also by pity, she took him back again.

Each night, in spite of all the shame, he had waited with
agony for bedtime, to see if she would shut him out. And each
night, as, in her false brightness, she said Good night, he felt
he must kill her or himself. But she asked for her kiss, so
pathetically, so prettily. So he kissed her, whilst his heart
was ice.

And sometimes he went out. Once he sat for a long time in the
church porch, before going in to bed. It was dark with a wind
blowing. He sat in the church porch and felt some shelter, some
security. But it grew cold, and he must go in to bed.

Then came the night when she said, putting her arms round him
and kissing him fondly:

"Stay with me to-night, will you?"

And he had stayed without demur. But his will had not
altered. He would have her fixed to him.

So that soon she told him again she must be alone.

"I don't want to send you away. I want to sleep
with you. But I can't sleep, you don't let me sleep."

His blood turned black in his veins.

"What do you mean by such a thing? It's an arrant lie. I
don't let you sleep——"

"But you don't. I sleep so well when I'm alone. And I can't
sleep when you're there. You do something to me, you put a
pressure on my head. And I must sleep, now the child is
coming."

"It's something in yourself," he replied, "something wrong in
you."

Horrible in the extreme were these nocturnal combats, when
all the world was asleep, and they two were alone, alone in the
world, and repelling each other. It was hardly to be borne.

He went and lay down alone. And at length, after a grey and
livid and ghastly period, he relaxed, something gave way in him.
He let go, he did not care what became of him. Strange and dim
he became to himself, to her, to everybody. A vagueness had come
over everything, like a drowning. And it was an infinite relief
to drown, a relief, a great, great relief.

He would insist no more, he would force her no more. He would
force himself upon her no more. He would let go, relax, lapse,
and what would be, should be.

Yet he wanted her still, he always, always wanted her. In his
soul, he was desolate as a child, he was so helpless. Like a
child on its mother, he depended on her for his living. He knew
it, and he knew he could hardly help it.

Yet he must be able to be alone. He must be able to lie down
alongside the empty space, and let be. He must be able to leave
himself to the flood, to sink or live as might be. For he
recognized at length his own limitation, and the limitation of
his power. He had to give in.

There was a stillness, a wanness between them. Half at least
of the battle was over. Sometimes she wept as she went about,
her heart was very heavy. But the child was always warm in her
womb.

They were friends again, new, subdued friends. But there was
a wanness between them. They slept together once more, very
quietly, and distinct, not one together as before. And she was
intimate with him as at first. But he was very quiet, and not
intimate. He was glad in his soul, but for the time being he was
not alive.

He could sleep with her, and let her be. He could be alone
now. He had just learned what it was to be able to be alone. It
was right and peaceful. She had given him a new, deeper freedom.
The world might be a welter of uncertainty, but he was himself
now. He had come into his own existence. He was born for a
second time, born at last unto himself, out of the vast body of
humanity. Now at last he had a separate identity, he existed
alone, even if he were not quite alone. Before he had only
existed in so far as he had relations with another being. Now he
had an absolute self—as well as a relative self.

But it was a very dumb, weak, helpless self, a crawling
nursling. He went about very quiet, and in a way, submissive. He
had an unalterable self at last, free, separate,
independent.

She was relieved, she was free of him. She had given him to
himself. She wept sometimes with tiredness and helplessness. But
he was a husband. And she seemed, in the child that was coming,
to forget. It seemed to make her warm and drowsy. She lapsed
into a long muse, indistinct, warm, vague, unwilling to be taken
out of her vagueness. And she rested on him also.

Sometimes she came to him with a strange light in her eyes,
poignant, pathetic, as if she were asking for something. He
looked and he could not understand. She was so beautiful, so
visionary, the rays seemed to go out of his breast to her, like
a shining. He was there for her, all for her. And she would hold
his breast, and kiss it, and kiss it, kneeling beside him, she
who was waiting for the hour of her delivery. And he would lie
looking down at his breast, till it seemed that his breast was
not himself, that he had left it lying there. Yet it was himself
also, and beautiful and bright with her kisses. He was glad with
a strange, radiant pain. Whilst she kneeled beside him, and
kissed his breast with a slow, rapt, half-devotional
movement.

He knew she wanted something, his heart yearned to give it
her. His heart yearned over her. And as she lifted her face,
that was radiant and rosy as a little cloud, his heart still
yearned over her, and, now from the distance, adored her. She
had a flower-like presence which he adored as he stood far off,
a stranger.

The weeks passed on, the time drew near, they were very
gentle, and delicately happy. The insistent, passionate, dark
soul, the powerful unsatisfaction in him seemed stilled and
tamed, the lion lay down with the lamb in him.

She loved him very much indeed, and he waited near her. She
was a precious, remote thing to him at this time, as she waited
for her child. Her soul was glad with an ecstasy because of the
coming infant. She wanted a boy: oh, very much she wanted a
boy.

But she seemed so young and so frail. She was indeed only a
girl. As she stood by the fire washing herself—she was
proud to wash herself at this time—and he looked at her,
his heart was full of extreme tenderness for her. Such fine,
fine limbs, her slim, round arms like chasing lights, and her
legs so simple and childish, yet so very proud. Oh, she stood on
proud legs, with a lovely reckless balance of her full belly,
and the adorable little roundnesses, and the breasts becoming
important. Above it all, her face was like a rosy cloud
shining.

How proud she was, what a lovely proud thing her young body!
And she loved him to put his hand on her ripe fullness, so that
he should thrill also with the stir and the quickening there. He
was afraid and silent, but she flung her arms round his neck
with proud, impudent joy.

The pains came on, and Oh—how she cried! She would have
him stay with her. And after her long cries she would look at
him, with tears in her eyes and a sobbing laugh on her face,
saying:

"I don't mind it really."

It was bad enough. But to her it was never deathly. Even the
fierce, tearing pain was exhilarating. She screamed and
suffered, but was all the time curiously alive and vital. She
felt so powerfully alive and in the hands of such a masterly
force of life, that her bottom-most feeling was one of
exhilaration. She knew she was winning, winning, she was always
winning, with each onset of pain she was nearer to victory.

Probably he suffered more than she did. He was not shocked or
horrified. But he was screwed very tight in the vise of
suffering.

It was a girl. The second of silence on her face when they
said so showed him she was disappointed. And a great blazing
passion of resentment and protest sprang up in his heart. In
that moment he claimed the child.

But when the milk came, and the infant sucked her breast, she
seemed to be leaping with extravagant bliss.

"It sucks me, it sucks me, it likes me—oh, it loves
it!" she cried, holding the child to her breast with her two
hands covering it, passionately.

And in a few moments, as she became used to her bliss, she
looked at the youth with glowing, unseeing eyes, and said:

"Anna Victrix."

He went away, trembling, and slept. To her, her pains were
the wound-smart of a victor, she was the prouder.

When she was well again she was very happy. She called the
baby Ursula. Both Anna and her husband felt they must have a
name that gave them private satisfaction. The baby was tawny
skinned, it had a curious downy skin, and wisps of bronze hair,
and the yellow grey eyes that wavered, and then became
golden-brown like the father's. So they called her Ursula
because of the picture of the saint.

It was a rather delicate baby at first, but soon it became
stronger, and was restless as a young eel. Anna was worn out
with the day-long wrestling with its young vigour.

As a little animal, she loved and adored it and was happy.
She loved her husband, she kissed his eyes and nose and mouth,
and made much of him, she said his limbs were beautiful, she was
fascinated by the physical form of him.

And she was indeed Anna Victrix. He could not combat her any
more. He was out in the wilderness, alone with her. Having
occasion to go to London, he marvelled, as he returned, thinking
of naked, lurking savages on an island, how these had built up
and created the great mass of Oxford Street or Piccadilly. How
had helpless savages, running with their spears on the
riverside, after fish, how had they come to rear up this great
London, the ponderous, massive, ugly superstructure of a world
of man upon a world of nature! It frightened and awed him. Man
was terrible, awful in his works. The works of man were more
terrible than man himself, almost monstrous.

And yet, for his own part, for his private being, Brangwen
felt that the whole of the man's world was exterior and
extraneous to his own real life with Anna. Sweep away the whole
monstrous superstructure of the world of to-day, cities and
industries and civilization, leave only the bare earth with
plants growing and waters running, and he would not mind, so
long as he were whole, had Anna and the child and the new,
strange certainty in his soul. Then, if he were naked, he would
find clothing somewhere, he would make a shelter and bring food
to his wife.

And what more? What more would be necessary? The great mass
of activity in which mankind was engaged meant nothing to him.
By nature, he had no part in it. What did he live for, then? For
Anna only, and for the sake of living? What did he want on this
earth? Anna only, and his children, and his life with his
children and her? Was there no more?

He was attended by a sense of something more, something
further, which gave him absolute being. It was as if now he
existed in Eternity, let Time be what it might. What was there
outside? The fabricated world, that he did not believe in? What
should he bring to her, from outside? Nothing? Was it enough, as
it was? He was troubled in his acquiescence. She was not with
him. Yet he scarcely believed in himself, apart from her, though
the whole Infinite was with him. Let the whole world slide down
and over the edge of oblivion, he would stand alone. But he was
unsure of her. And he existed also in her. So he was unsure.

He hovered near to her, never quite able to forget the vague,
haunting uncertainty, that seemed to challenge him, and which he
would not hear. A pang of dread, almost guilt, as of
insufficiency, would go over him as he heard her talking to the
baby. She stood before the window, with the month-old child in
her arms, talking in a musical, young sing-song that he had not
heard before, and which rang on his heart like a claim from the
distance, or the voice of another world sounding its claim on
him. He stood near, listening, and his heart surged, surged to
rise and submit. Then it shrank back and stayed aloof. He could
not move, a denial was upon him, as if he could not deny
himself. He must, he must be himself.

"Look at the silly blue-caps, my beauty," she crooned,
holding up the infant to the window, where shone the white
garden, and the blue-tits scuffling in the snow: "Look at the
silly blue-caps, my darling, having a fight in the snow! Look at
them, my bird—beating the snow about with their wings, and
shaking their heads. Oh, aren't they wicked things, wicked
things! Look at their yellow feathers on the snow there! They'll
miss them, won't they, when they're cold later on.

"Must we tell them to stop, must we say 'stop it' to them, my
bird? But they are naughty, naughty! Look at them!" Suddenly her
voice broke loud and fierce, she rapped the pane sharply.

"Stop it," she cried, "stop it, you little nuisances. Stop
it!" She called louder, and rapped the pane more sharply. Her
voice was fierce and imperative.

"Have more sense," she cried.

"There, now they're gone. Where have they gone, the silly
things? What will they say to each other? What will they say, my
lambkin? They'll forget, won't they, they'll forget all about
it, out of their silly little heads, and their blue caps."

After a moment, she turned her bright face to her
husband.

"They were really fighting, they were really fierce
with each other!" she said, her voice keen with excitement and
wonder, as if she belonged to the birds' world, were identified
with the race of birds.

"Ay, they'll fight, will blue-caps," he said, glad when she
turned to him with her glow from elsewhere. He came and stood
beside her and looked out at the marks on the snow where the
birds had scuffled, and at the yew trees' burdened, white and
black branches. What was the appeal it made to him, what was the
question of her bright face, what was the challenge he was
called to answer? He did not know. But as he stood there he felt
some responsibility which made him glad, but uneasy, as if he
must put out his own light. And he could not move as yet.

Anna loved the child very much, oh, very much. Yet still she
was not quite fulfilled. She had a slight expectant feeling, as
of a door half opened. Here she was, safe and still in
Cossethay. But she felt as if she were not in Cossethay at all.
She was straining her eyes to something beyond. And from her
Pisgah mount, which she had attained, what could she see? A
faint, gleaming horizon, a long way off, and a rainbow like an
archway, a shadow-door with faintly coloured coping above it.
Must she be moving thither?

Something she had not, something she did not grasp, could not
arrive at. There was something beyond her. But why must she
start on the journey? She stood so safely on the Pisgah
mountain.

In the winter, when she rose with the sunrise, and out of the
back windows saw the east flaming yellow and orange above the
green, glowing grass, while the great pear tree in between stood
dark and magnificent as an idol, and under the dark pear tree,
the little sheet of water spread smooth in burnished, yellow
light, she said, "It is here". And when, at evening, the sunset
came in a red glare through the big opening in the clouds, she
said again, "It is beyond".

Dawn and sunset were the feet of the rainbow that spanned the
day, and she saw the hope, the promise. Why should she travel
any further?

Yet she always asked the question. As the sun went down in
his fiery winter haste, she faced the blazing close of the
affair, in which she had not played her fullest part, and she
made her demand still: "What are you doing, making this big
shining commotion? What is it that you keep so busy about, that
you will not let us alone?"

She did not turn to her husband, for him to lead her. He was
apart from her, with her, according to her different conceptions
of him. The child she might hold up, she might toss the child
forward into the furnace, the child might walk there, amid the
burning coals and the incandescent roar of heat, as the three
witnesses walked with the angel in the fire.

Soon, she felt sure of her husband. She knew his dark face
and the extent of its passion. She knew his slim, vigorous body,
she said it was hers. Then there was no denying her. She was a
rich woman enjoying her riches.

And soon again she was with child. Which made her satisfied
and took away her discontent. She forgot that she had watched
the sun climb up and pass his way, a magnificent traveller
surging forward. She forgot that the moon had looked through a
window of the high, dark night, and nodded like a magic
recognition, signalled to her to follow. Sun and moon travelled
on, and left her, passed her by, a rich woman enjoying her
riches. She should go also. But she could not go, when they
called, because she must stay at home now. With satisfaction she
relinquished the adventure to the unknown. She was bearing her
children.

There was another child coming, and Anna lapsed into vague
content. If she were not the wayfarer to the unknown, if she
were arrived now, settled in her builded house, a rich woman,
still her doors opened under the arch of the rainbow, her
threshold reflected the passing of the sun and moon, the great
travellers, her house was full of the echo of journeying.

She was a door and a threshold, she herself. Through her
another soul was coming, to stand upon her as upon the
threshold, looking out, shading its eyes for the direction to
take.







CHAPTER VII

THE CATHEDRAL

During the first year of her marriage, before Ursula was
born, Anna Brangwen and her husband went to visit her mother's
friend, the Baron Skrebensky. The latter had kept a slight
connection with Anna's mother, and had always preserved some
officious interest in the young girl, because she was a pure
Pole.

When Baron Skrebensky was about forty years old, his wife
died, and left him raving, disconsolate. Lydia had visited him
then, taking Anna with her. It was when the girl was fourteen
years old. Since then she had not seen him. She remembered him
as a small sharp clergyman who cried and talked and terrified
her, whilst her mother was most strangely consoling, in a
foreign language.

The little Baron never quite approved of Anna, because she
spoke no Polish. Still, he considered himself in some way her
guardian, on Lensky's behalf, and he presented her with some
old, heavy Russian jewellery, the least valuable of his wife's
relics. Then he lapsed out of the Brangwen's life again, though
he lived only about thirty miles away.

Three years later came the startling news that he had married
a young English girl of good family. Everybody marvelled. Then
came a copy of "The History of the Parish of Briswell, by
Rudolph, Baron Skrebensky, Vicar of Briswell." It was a curious
book, incoherent, full of interesting exhumations. It was
dedicated: "To my wife, Millicent Maud Pearse, in whom I embrace
the generous spirit of England."

"If he embraces no more than the spirit of England," said Tom
Brangwen, "it's a bad look-out for him."

But paying a formal visit with his wife, he found the new
Baroness a little, creamy-skinned, insidious thing with
red-brown hair and a mouth that one must always watch, because
it curved back continually in an incomprehensible, strange laugh
that exposed her rather prominent teeth. She was not beautiful,
yet Tom Brangwen was immediately under her spell. She seemed to
snuggle like a kitten within his warmth, whilst she was at the
same time elusive and ironical, suggesting the fine steel of her
claws.

The Baron was almost dotingly courteous and attentive to her.
She, almost mockingly, yet quite happy, let him dote. Curious
little thing she was, she had the soft, creamy, elusive beauty
of a ferret. Tom Brangwen was quite at a loss, at her mercy, and
she laughed, a little breathlessly, as if tempted to cruelty.
She did put fine torments on the elderly Baron.

When some months later she bore a son, the Baron Skrebensky
was loud with delight.

Gradually she gathered a circle of acquaintances in the
county. For she was of good family, half Venetian, educated in
Dresden. The little foreign vicar attained to a social status
which almost satisfied his maddened pride.

Therefore the Brangwens were surprised when the invitation
came for Anna and her young husband to pay a visit to Briswell
vicarage. For the Skrebenskys were now moderately well off,
Millicent Skrebensky having some fortune of her own.

Anna took her best clothes, recovered her best high-school
manner, and arrived with her husband. Will Brangwen, ruddy,
bright, with long limbs and a small head, like some uncouth
bird, was not changed in the least. The little Baroness was
smiling, showing her teeth. She had a real charm, a kind of
joyous coldness, laughing, delighted, like some weasel. Anna at
once respected her, and was on her guard before her,
instinctively attracted by the strange, childlike surety of the
Baroness, yet mistrusting it, fascinated. The little baron was
now quite white-haired, very brittle. He was wizened and
wrinkled, yet fiery, unsubdued. Anna looked at his lean body, at
his small, fine lean legs and lean hands as he sat talking, and
she flushed. She recognized the quality of the male in him, his
lean, concentrated age, his informed fire, his faculty for
sharp, deliberate response. He was so detached, so purely
objective. A woman was thoroughly outside him. There was no
confusion. So he could give that fine, deliberate response.

He was something separate and interesting; his hard,
intrinsic being, whittled down by age to an essentiality and a
directness almost death-like, cruel, was yet so unswervingly
sure in its action, so distinct in its surety, that she was
attracted to him. She watched his cool, hard, separate fire,
fascinated by it. Would she rather have it than her husband's
diffuse heat, than his blind, hot youth?

She seemed to be breathing high, sharp air, as if she had
just come out of a hot room. These strange Skrebenskys made her
aware of another, freer element, in which each person was
detached and isolated. Was not this her natural element? Was not
the close Brangwen life stifling her?

Meanwhile the little baroness, with always a subtle light
stirring of her full, lustrous, hazel eyes, was playing with
Will Brangwen. He was not quick enough to see all her movements.
Yet he watched her steadily, with unchanging, lit-up eyes. She
was a strange creature to him. But she had no power over him.
She flushed, and was irritated. Yet she glanced again and again
at his dark, living face, curiously, as if she despised him. She
despised his uncritical, unironical nature, it had nothing for
her. Yet it angered her as if she were jealous. He watched her
with deferential interest as he would watch a stoat playing. But
he himself was not implicated. He was different in kind. She was
all lambent, biting flames, he was a red fire glowing steadily.
She could get nothing out of him. So she made him flush darkly
by assuming a biting, subtle class-superiority. He flushed, but
still he did not object. He was too different.

Her little boy came in with the nurse. He was a quick, slight
child, with fine perceptiveness, and a cool transitoriness in
his interest. At once he treated Will Brangwen as an outsider.
He stayed by Anna for a moment, acknowledged her, then was gone
again, quick, observant, restless, with a glance of interest at
everything.

The father adored him, and spoke to him in Polish. It was
queer, the stiff, aristocratic manner of the father with the
child, the distance in the relationship, the classic fatherhood
on the one hand, the filial subordination on the other. They
played together, in their different degrees very separate, two
different beings, differing as it were in rank rather than in
relationship. And the baroness smiled, smiled, smiled, always
smiled, showing her rather protruding teeth, having always a
mysterious attraction and charm.

Anna realized how different her own life might have been, how
different her own living. Her soul stirred, she became as
another person. Her intimacy with her husband passed away, the
curious enveloping Brangwen intimacy, so warm, so close, so
stifling, when one seemed always to be in contact with the other
person, like a blood-relation, was annulled. She denied it, this
close relationship with her young husband. He and she were not
one. His heat was not always to suffuse her, suffuse her,
through her mind and her individuality, till she was of one heat
with him, till she had not her own self apart. She wanted her
own life. He seemed to lap her and suffuse her with his being,
his hot life, till she did not know whether she were herself, or
whether she were another creature, united with him in a world of
close blood-intimacy that closed over her and excluded her from
all the cool outside.

She wanted her own, old, sharp self, detached, detached,
active but not absorbed, active for her own part, taking and
giving, but never absorbed. Whereas he wanted this strange
absorption with her, which still she resisted. But she was
partly helpless against it. She had lived so long in Tom
Brangwen's love, beforehand.

From the Skrebensky's, they went to Will Brangwen's beloved
Lincoln Cathedral, because it was not far off. He had promised
her, that one by one, they should visit all the cathedrals of
England. They began with Lincoln, which he knew well.

He began to get excited as the time drew near to set off.
What was it that changed him so much? She was almost angry,
coming as she did from the Skrebensky's. But now he ran on
alone. His very breast seemed to open its doors to watch for the
great church brooding over the town. His soul ran ahead.

When he saw the cathedral in the distance, dark blue lifted
watchful in the sky, his heart leapt. It was the sign in heaven,
it was the Spirit hovering like a dove, like an eagle over the
earth. He turned his glowing, ecstatic face to her, his mouth
opened with a strange, ecstatic grin.

"There she is," he said.

The "she" irritated her. Why "she"? It was "it". What was the
cathedral, a big building, a thing of the past, obsolete, to
excite him to such a pitch? She began to stir herself to
readiness.

They passed up the steep hill, he eager as a pilgrim arriving
at the shrine. As they came near the precincts, with castle on
one side and cathedral on the other, his veins seemed to break
into fiery blossom, he was transported.

They had passed through the gate, and the great west front
was before them, with all its breadth and ornament.

"It is a false front," he said, looking at the golden stone
and the twin towers, and loving them just the same. In a little
ecstasy he found himself in the porch, on the brink of the
unrevealed. He looked up to the lovely unfolding of the stone.
He was to pass within to the perfect womb.

Then he pushed open the door, and the great, pillared gloom
was before him, in which his soul shuddered and rose from her
nest. His soul leapt, soared up into the great church. His body
stood still, absorbed by the height. His soul leapt up into the
gloom, into possession, it reeled, it swooned with a great
escape, it quivered in the womb, in the hush and the gloom of
fecundity, like seed of procreation in ecstasy.

She too was overcome with wonder and awe. She followed him in
his progress. Here, the twilight was the very essence of life,
the coloured darkness was the embryo of all light, and the day.
Here, the very first dawn was breaking, the very last sunset
sinking, and the immemorial darkness, whereof life's day would
blossom and fall away again, re-echoed peace and profound
immemorial silence.

Away from time, always outside of time! Between east and
west, between dawn and sunset, the church lay like a seed in
silence, dark before germination, silenced after death.
Containing birth and death, potential with all the noise and
transition of life, the cathedral remained hushed, a great,
involved seed, whereof the flower would be radiant life
inconceivable, but whose beginning and whose end were the circle
of silence. Spanned round with the rainbow, the jewelled gloom
folded music upon silence, light upon darkness, fecundity upon
death, as a seed folds leaf upon leaf and silence upon the root
and the flower, hushing up the secret of all between its parts,
the death out of which it fell, the life into which it has
dropped, the immortality it involves, and the death it will
embrace again.

Here in the church, "before" and "after" were folded
together, all was contained in oneness. Brangwen came to his
consummation. Out of the doors of the womb he had come, putting
aside the wings of the womb, and proceeding into the light.
Through daylight and day-after-day he had come, knowledge after
knowledge, and experience after experience, remembering the
darkness of the womb, having prescience of the darkness after
death. Then between—while he had pushed open the doors of
the cathedral, and entered the twilight of both darkness, the
hush of the two-fold silence where dawn was sunset, and the
beginning and the end were one.

Here the stone leapt up from the plain of earth, leapt up in
a manifold, clustered desire each time, up, away from the
horizontal earth, through twilight and dusk and the whole range
of desire, through the swerving, the declination, ah, to the
ecstasy, the touch, to the meeting and the consummation, the
meeting, the clasp, the close embrace, the neutrality, the
perfect, swooning consummation, the timeless ecstasy. There his
soul remained, at the apex of the arch, clinched in the timeless
ecstasy, consummated.

And there was no time nor life nor death, but only this, this
timeless consummation, where the thrust from earth met the
thrust from earth and the arch was locked on the keystone of
ecstasy. This was all, this was everything. Till he came to
himself in the world below. Then again he gathered himself
together, in transit, every jet of him strained and leaped,
leaped clear into the darkness above, to the fecundity and the
unique mystery, to the touch, the clasp, the consummation, the
climax of eternity, the apex of the arch.

She too was overcome, but silenced rather than tuned to the
place. She loved it as a world not quite her own, she resented
his transports and ecstasies. His passion in the cathedral at
first awed her, then made her angry. After all, there was the
sky outside, and in here, in this mysterious half-night, when
his soul leapt with the pillars upwards, it was not to the stars
and the crystalline dark space, but to meet and clasp with the
answering impulse of leaping stone, there in the dusk and
secrecy of the roof. The far-off clinching and mating of the
arches, the leap and thrust of the stone, carrying a great roof
overhead, awed and silenced her.

But yet—yet she remembered that the open sky was no
blue vault, no dark dome hung with many twinkling lamps, but a
space where stars were wheeling in freedom, with freedom above
them always higher.

The cathedral roused her too. But she would never consent to
the knitting of all the leaping stone in a great roof that
closed her in, and beyond which was nothing, nothing, it was the
ultimate confine. His soul would have liked it to be so: here,
here is all, complete, eternal: motion, meeting, ecstasy, and no
illusion of time, of night and day passing by, but only
perfectly proportioned space and movement clinching and
renewing, and passion surging its way into great waves to the
altar, recurrence of ecstasy.

Her soul too was carried forward to the altar, to the
threshold of Eternity, in reverence and fear and joy. But ever
she hung back in the transit, mistrusting the culmination of the
altar. She was not to be flung forward on the lift and lift of
passionate flights, to be cast at last upon the altar steps as
upon the shore of the unknown. There was a great joy and a
verity in it. But even in the dazed swoon of the cathedral, she
claimed another right. The altar was barren, its lights gone
out. God burned no more in that bush. It was dead matter lying
there. She claimed the right to freedom above her, higher than
the roof. She had always a sense of being roofed in.

So that she caught at little things, which saved her from
being swept forward headlong in the tide of passion that leaps
on into the Infinite in a great mass, triumphant and flinging
its own course. She wanted to get out of this fixed, leaping,
forward-travelling movement, to rise from it as a bird rises
with wet, limp feet from the sea, to lift herself as a bird
lifts its breast and thrusts its body from the pulse and heave
of a sea that bears it forward to an unwilling conclusion, tear
herself away like a bird on wings, and in open space where there
is clarity, rise up above the fixed, surcharged motion, a
separate speck that hangs suspended, moves this way and that,
seeing and answering before it sinks again, having chosen or
found the direction in which it shall be carried forward.

And it was as if she must grasp at something, as if her wings
were too weak to lift her straight off the heaving motion. So
she caught sight of the wicked, odd little faces carved in
stone, and she stood before them arrested.

These sly little faces peeped out of the grand tide of the
cathedral like something that knew better. They knew quite well,
these little imps that retorted on man's own illusion, that the
cathedral was not absolute. They winked and leered, giving
suggestion of the many things that had been left out of the
great concept of the church. "However much there is inside here,
there's a good deal they haven't got in," the little faces
mocked.

Apart from the lift and spring of the great impulse towards
the altar, these little faces had separate wills, separate
motions, separate knowledge, which rippled back in defiance of
the tide, and laughed in triumph of their own very
littleness.

"Oh, look!" cried Anna. "Oh, look how adorable, the faces!
Look at her."

Brangwen looked unwillingly. This was the voice of the
serpent in his Eden. She pointed him to a plump, sly, malicious
little face carved in stone.

"He knew her, the man who carved her," said Anna. "I'm sure
she was his wife."

"It isn't a woman at all, it's a man," said Brangwen
curtly.

"Do you think so?—No! That isn't a man. That is no
man's face."

Her voice sounded rather jeering. He laughed shortly, and
went on. But she would not go forward with him. She loitered
about the carvings. And he could not go forward without her. He
waited impatient of this counteraction. She was spoiling his
passionate intercourse with the cathedral. His brows began to
gather.

"Oh, this is good!" she cried again. "Here is the same
woman—look!—only he's made her cross! Isn't it
lovely! Hasn't he made her hideous to a degree?" She laughed
with pleasure. "Didn't he hate her? He must have been a nice
man! Look at her—isn't it awfully good—just like a
shrewish woman. He must have enjoyed putting her in like that.
He got his own back on her, didn't he?"

"It's a man's face, no woman's at all—a
monk's—clean shaven," he said.

She laughed with a pouf! of laughter.

"You hate to think he put his wife in your cathedral, don't
you?" she mocked, with a tinkle of profane laughter. And she
laughed with malicious triumph.

She had got free from the cathedral, she had even destroyed
the passion he had. She was glad. He was bitterly angry. Strive
as he would, he could not keep the cathedral wonderful to him.
He was disillusioned. That which had been his absolute,
containing all heaven and earth, was become to him as to her, a
shapely heap of dead matter—but dead, dead.

His mouth was full of ash, his soul was furious. He hated her
for having destroyed another of his vital illusions. Soon he
would be stark, stark, without one place wherein to stand,
without one belief in which to rest.

Yet somewhere in him he responded more deeply to the sly
little face that knew better, than he had done before to the
perfect surge of his cathedral.

Nevertheless for the time being his soul was wretched and
homeless, and he could not bear to think of Anna's ousting him
from his beloved realities. He wanted his cathedral; he wanted
to satisfy his blind passion. And he could not any more.
Something intervened.

They went home again, both of them altered. She had some new
reverence for that which he wanted, he felt that his cathedrals
would never again be to him as they had been. Before, he had
thought them absolute. But now he saw them crouching under the
sky, with still the dark, mysterious world of reality inside,
but as a world within a world, a sort of side show, whereas
before they had been as a world to him within a chaos: a
reality, an order, an absolute, within a meaningless
confusion.

He had felt, before, that could he but go through the great
door and look down the gloom towards the far-off, concluding
wonder of the altar, that then, with the windows suspended
around like tablets of jewels, emanating their own glory, then
he had arrived. Here the satisfaction he had yearned after came
near, towards this, the porch of the great Unknown, all reality
gathered, and there, the altar was the mystic door, through
which all and everything must move on to eternity.

But now, somehow, sadly and disillusioned, he realized that
the doorway was no doorway. It was too narrow, it was false.
Outside the cathedral were many flying spirits that could never
be sifted through the jewelled gloom. He had lost his
absolute.

He listened to the thrushes in the gardens and heard a note
which the cathedrals did not include: something free and
careless and joyous. He crossed a field that was all yellow with
dandelions, on his way to work, and the bath of yellow glowing
was something at once so sumptuous and so fresh, that he was
glad he was away from his shadowy cathedral.

There was life outside the Church. There was much that the
Church did not include. He thought of God, and of the whole blue
rotunda of the day. That was something great and free. He
thought of the ruins of the Grecian worship, and it seemed, a
temple was never perfectly a temple, till it was ruined and
mixed up with the winds and the sky and the herbs.

Still he loved the Church. As a symbol, he loved it. He
tended it for what it tried to represent, rather than for that
which it did represent. Still he loved it. The little church
across his garden-wall drew him, he gave it loving attention.
But he went to take charge of it, to preserve it. It was as an
old, sacred thing to him. He looked after the stone and
woodwork, mending the organ and restoring a piece of broken
carving, repairing the church furniture. Later, he became
choir-master also.

His life was shifting its centre, becoming more superficial.
He had failed to become really articulate, failed to find real
expression. He had to continue in the old form. But in spirit,
he was uncreated.

Anna was absorbed in the child now, she left her husband to
take his own way. She was willing now to postpone all adventure
into unknown realities. She had the child, her palpable and
immediate future was the child. If her soul had found no
utterance, her womb had.

The church that neighboured with his house became very
intimate and dear to him. He cherished it, he had it entirely in
his charge. If he could find no new activity, he would be happy
cherishing the old, dear form of worship. He knew this little,
whitewashed church. In its shadowy atmosphere he sank back into
being. He liked to sink himself in its hush as a stone sinks
into water.

He went across his garden, mounted the wall by the little
steps, and entered the hush and peace of the church. As the
heavy door clanged to behind him, his feet re-echoed in the
aisle, his heart re-echoed with a little passion of tenderness
and mystic peace. He was also slightly ashamed, like a man who
has failed, who lapses back for his fulfilment.

He loved to light the candles at the organ, and sitting there
alone in the little glow, practice the hymns and chants for the
service. The whitewashed arches retreated into darkness, the
sound of the organ and the organ-pedals died away upon the
unalterable stillness of the church, there were faint, ghostly
noises in the tower, and then the music swelled out again,
loudly, triumphantly.

He ceased to fret about his life. He relaxed his will, and
let everything go. What was between him and his wife was a great
thing, if it was not everything. She had conquered, really. Let
him wait, and abide, wait and abide. She and the baby and
himself, they were one. The organ rang out his protestation. His
soul lay in the darkness as he pressed the keys of the
organ.

To Anna, the baby was a complete bliss and fulfilment. Her
desires sank into abeyance, her soul was in bliss over the baby.
It was rather a delicate child, she had trouble to rear it. She
never for a moment thought it would die. It was a delicate
infant, therefore it behoved her to make it strong. She threw
herself into the labour, the child was everything. Her
imagination was all occupied here. She was a mother. It was
enough to handle the new little limbs, the new little body, hear
the new little voice crying in the stillness. All the future
rang to her out of the sound of the baby's crying and cooing,
she balanced the coming years of life in her hands, as she
nursed the child. The passionate sense of fulfilment, of the
future germinated in her, made her vivid and powerful. All the
future was in her hands, in the hands of the woman. And before
this baby was ten months old, she was again with child. She
seemed to be in the fecund of storm life, every moment was full
and busy with productiveness to her. She felt like the earth,
the mother of everything.

Brangwen occupied himself with the church, he played the
organ, he trained the choir-boys, he taught a Sunday-school
class of youths. He was happy enough. There was an eager,
yearning kind of happiness in him as he taught the boys on
Sundays. He was all the time exciting himself with the proximity
of some secret that he had not yet fathomed.

In the house, he served his wife and the little matriarchy.
She loved him because he was the father of her children. And she
always had a physical passion for him. So he gave up trying to
have the spiritual superiority and control, or even her respect
for his conscious or public life. He lived simply by her
physical love for him. And he served the little matriarchy,
nursing the child and helping with the housework, indifferent
any more of his own dignity and importance. But his abandoning
of claims, his living isolated upon his own interest, made him
seem unreal, unimportant.

Anna was not publicly proud of him. But very soon she learned
to be indifferent to public life. He was not what is called a
manly man: he did not drink or smoke or arrogate importance. But
he was her man, and his very indifference to all claims of
manliness set her supreme in her own world with him. Physically,
she loved him and he satisfied her. He went alone and subsidiary
always. At first it had irritated her, the outer world existed
so little to him. Looking at him with outside eyes, she was
inclined to sneer at him. But her sneer changed to a sort of
respect. She respected him, that he could serve her so simply
and completely. Above all, she loved to bear his children. She
loved to be the source of children.

She could not understand him, his strange, dark rages and his
devotion to the church. It was the church building he cared for;
and yet his soul was passionate for something. He laboured
cleaning the stonework, repairing the woodwork, restoring the
organ, and making the singing as perfect as possible. To keep
the church fabric and the church-ritual intact was his business;
to have the intimate sacred building utterly in his own hands,
and to make the form of service complete. There was a little
bright anguish and tension on his face, and in his intent
movements. He was like a lover who knows he is betrayed, but who
still loves, whose love is only the more intense. The church was
false, but he served it the more attentively.

During the day, at his work in the office, he kept himself
suspended. He did not exist. He worked automatically till it was
time to go home.

He loved with a hot heart the dark-haired little Ursula, and
he waited for the child to come to consciousness. Now the mother
monopolized the baby. But his heart waited in its darkness. His
hour would come.

In the long run, he learned to submit to Anna. She forced him
to the spirit of her laws, whilst leaving him the letter of his
own. She combated in him his devils. She suffered very much from
his inexplicable and incalculable dark rages, when a blackness
filled him, and a black wind seemed to sweep out of existence
everything that had to do with him. She could feel herself,
everything, being annihilated by him.

At first she fought him. At night, in this state, he would
kneel down to say his prayers. She looked at his crouching
figure.

"Why are you kneeling there, pretending to pray?" she said,
harshly. "Do you think anybody can pray, when they are in the
vile temper you are in?"

He remained crouching by the beside, motionless.

"It's horrible," she continued, "and such a pretence! What do
you pretend you are saying? Who do you pretend you are praying
to?"

He still remained motionless, seething with inchoate rage,
when his whole nature seemed to disintegrate. He seemed to live
with a strain upon himself, and occasionally came these dark,
chaotic rages, the lust for destruction. She then fought with
him, and their fights were horrible, murderous. And then the
passion between them came just as black and awful.

But little by little, as she learned to love him better, she
would put herself aside, and when she felt one of his fits upon
him, would ignore him, successfully leave him in his world,
whilst she remained in her own. He had a black struggle with
himself, to come back to her. For at last he learned that he
would be in hell until he came back to her. So he struggled to
submit to her, and she was afraid of the ugly strain in his
eyes. She made love to him, and took him. Then he was grateful
to her love, humble.

He made himself a woodwork shed, in which to restore things
which were destroyed in the church. So he had plenty to do: his
wife, his child, the church, the woodwork, and his wage-earning,
all occupying him. If only there were not some limit to him,
some darkness across his eyes! He had to give in to it at last
himself. He must submit to his own inadequacy, aware of some
limit to himself, of [something unformed in] his own black, violent temper,
and to reckon with it. But as she was more gentle with him, it
became quieter.

As he sat sometimes very still, with a bright, vacant face,
Anna could see the suffering among the brightness. He was aware
of some limit to himself, of something unformed in his very
being, of some buds which were not ripe in him, some folded
centres of darkness which would never develop and unfold whilst
he was alive in the body. He was unready for fulfilment.
Something undeveloped in him limited him, there was a darkness
in him which he could not unfold, which would never
unfold in him.







CHAPTER VIII

THE CHILD

From the first, the baby stirred in the young father a
deep, strong emotion he dared scarcely acknowledge, it was so
strong and came out of the dark of him. When he heard the child
cry, a terror possessed him, because of the answering echo from
the unfathomed distances in himself. Must he know in himself
such distances, perilous and imminent?

He had the infant in his arms, he walked backwards and
forwards troubled by the crying of his own flesh and blood. This
was his own flesh and blood crying! His soul rose against the
voice suddenly breaking out from him, from the distances in
him.

Sometimes in the night, the child cried and cried, when the
night was heavy and sleep oppressed him. And half asleep, he
stretched out his hand to put it over the baby's face to stop
the crying. But something arrested his hand: the very
inhumanness of the intolerable, continuous crying arrested him.
It was so impersonal, without cause or object. Yet he echoed to
it directly, his soul answered its madness. It filled him with
terror, almost with frenzy.

He learned to acquiesce to this, to submit to the awful,
obliterated sources which were the origin of his living tissue.
He was not what he conceived himself to be! Then he was what he
was, unknown, potent, dark.

He became accustomed to the child, he knew how to lift and
balance the little body. The baby had a beautiful, rounded head
that moved him passionately. He would have fought to the last
drop to defend that exquisite, perfect round head.

He learned to know the little hands and feet, the strange,
unseeing, golden-brown eyes, the mouth that opened only to cry,
or to suck, or to show a queer, toothless laugh. He could almost
understand even the dangling legs, which at first had created in
him a feeling of aversion. They could kick in their queer little
way, they had their own softness.

One evening, suddenly, he saw the tiny, living thing rolling
naked in the mother's lap, and he was sick, it was so utterly
helpless and vulnerable and extraneous; in a world of hard
surfaces and varying altitudes, it lay vulnerable and naked at
every point. Yet it was quite blithe. And yet, in its blind,
awful crying, was there not the blind, far-off terror of its own
vulnerable nakedness, the terror of being so utterly delivered
over, helpless at every point. He could not bear to hear it
crying. His heart strained and stood on guard against the whole
universe.

But he waited for the dread of these days to pass; he saw the
joy coming. He saw the lovely, creamy, cool little ear of the
baby, a bit of dark hair rubbed to a bronze floss, like
bronze-dust. And he waited, for the child to become his, to look
at him and answer him.

It had a separate being, but it was his own child. His flesh
and blood vibrated to it. He caught the baby to his breast with
his passionate, clapping laugh. And the infant knew him.

As the newly-opened, newly-dawned eyes looked at him, he
wanted them to perceive him, to recognize him. Then he was
verified. The child knew him, a queer contortion of laughter
came on its face for him. He caught it to his breast, clapping
with a triumphant laugh.

The golden-brown eyes of the child gradually lit up and
dilated at the sight of the dark-glowing face of the youth. It
knew its mother better, it wanted its mother more. But the
brightest, sharpest little ecstasy was for the father.

It began to be strong, to move vigorously and freely, to make
sounds like words. It was a baby girl now. Already it knew his
strong hands, it exulted in his strong clasp, it laughed and
crowed when he played with it.

And his heart grew red—hot with passionate feeling for
the child. She was not much more than a year old when the second
baby was born. Then he took Ursula for his own. She his first
little girl. He had set his heart on her.

The second had dark blue eyes and a fair skin: it was more a
Brangwen, people said. The hair was fair. But they forgot Anna's
stiff blonde fleece of childhood. They called the newcomer
Gudrun.

This time, Anna was stronger, and not so eager. She did not
mind that the baby was not a boy. It was enough that she had
milk and could suckle her child: Oh, oh, the bliss of the little
life sucking the milk of her body! Oh, oh, oh the bliss, as the
infant grew stronger, of the two tiny hands clutching, catching
blindly yet passionately at her breast, of the tiny mouth
seeking her in blind, sure, vital knowledge, of the sudden
consummate peace as the little body sank, the mouth and throat
sucking, sucking, sucking, drinking life from her to make a new
life, almost sobbing with passionate joy of receiving its own
existence, the tiny hands clutching frantically as the nipple
was drawn back, not to be gainsaid. This was enough for Anna.
She seemed to pass off into a kind of rapture of motherhood, her
rapture of motherhood was everything.

So that the father had the elder baby, the weaned child, the
golden-brown, wondering vivid eyes of the little Ursula were for
him, who had waited behind the mother till the need was for him.
The mother felt a sharp stab of jealousy. But she was still more
absorbed in the tiny baby. It was entirely hers, its need was
direct upon her.

So Ursula became the child of her father's heart. She was the
little blossom, he was the sun. He was patient, energetic,
inventive for her. He taught her all the funny little things, he
filled her and roused her to her fullest tiny measure. She
answered him with her extravagant infant's laughter and her call
of delight.

Now there were two babies, a woman came in to do the
housework. Anna was wholly nurse. Two babies were not too much
for her. But she hated any form of work, now her children had
come, except the charge of them.

When Ursula toddled about, she was an absorbed, busy child,
always amusing herself, needing not much attention from other
people. At evening, towards six o'clock, Anna very often went
across the lane to the stile, lifted Ursula over into the field,
with a: "Go and meet Daddy." Then Brangwen, coming up the steep
round of the hill, would see before him on the brow of the path
a tiny, tottering, windblown little mite with a dark head, who,
as soon as she saw him, would come running in tiny, wild,
windmill fashion, lifting her arms up and down to him, down the
steep hill. His heart leapt up, he ran his fastest to her, to
catch her, because he knew she would fall. She came fluttering
on, wildly, with her little limbs flying. And he was glad when
he caught her up in his arms. Once she fell as she came flying
to him, he saw her pitch forward suddenly as she was running
with her hands lifted to him; and when he picked her up, her
mouth was bleeding. He could never bear to think of it, he
always wanted to cry, even when he was an old man and she had
become a stranger to him. How he loved that little
Ursula!—his heart had been sharply seared for her, when he
was a youth, first married.

When she was a little older, he would see her recklessly
climbing over the bars of the stile, in her red pinafore,
swinging in peril and tumbling over, picking herself up and
flitting towards him. Sometimes she liked to ride on his
shoulder, sometimes she preferred to walk with his hand,
sometimes she would fling her arms round his legs for a moment,
then race free again, whilst he went shouting and calling to
her, a child along with her. He was still only a tall, thin,
unsettled lad of twenty-two.

It was he who had made her her cradle, her little chair, her
little stool, her high chair. It was he who would swing her up
to table or who would make for her a doll out of an old
table-leg, whilst she watched him, saying:

"Make her eyes, Daddy, make her eyes!"

And he made her eyes with his knife.

She was very fond of adorning herself, so he would tie a
piece of cotton round her ear, and hang a blue bead on it
underneath for an ear-ring. The ear-rings varied with a red
bead, and a golden bead, and a little pearl bead. And as he came
home at night, seeing her bridling and looking very
self-conscious, he took notice and said:

"So you're wearing your best golden and pearl ear-rings,
to-day?"

"Yes."

"I suppose you've been to see the queen?"

"Yes, I have."

"Oh, and what had she to say?"

"She said—she said—'You won't dirty your nice
white frock."'

He gave her the nicest bits from his plate, putting them into
her red, moist mouth. And he would make on a piece of
bread-and-butter a bird, out of jam: which she ate with
extraordinary relish.

After the tea-things were washed up, the woman went away,
leaving the family free. Usually Brangwen helped in the bathing
of the children. He held long discussions with his child as she
sat on his knee and he unfastened her clothes. And he seemed to
be talking really of momentous things, deep moralities. Then
suddenly she ceased to hear, having caught sight of a glassie
rolled into a corner. She slipped away, and was in no hurry to
return.

"Come back here," he said, waiting. She became absorbed,
taking no notice.

"Come on," he repeated, with a touch of command.

An excited little chuckle came from her, but she pretended to
be absorbed.

"Do you hear, Milady?"

She turned with a fleeting, exulting laugh. He rushed on her,
and swept her up.

"Who was it that didn't come!" he said, rolling her between
his strong hands, tickling her. And she laughed heartily,
heartily. She loved him that he compelled her with his strength
and decision. He was all-powerful, the tower of strength which
rose out of her sight.

When the children were in bed, sometimes Anna and he sat and
talked, desultorily, both of them idle. He read very little.
Anything he was drawn to read became a burning reality to him,
another scene outside his window. Whereas Anna skimmed through a
book to see what happened, then she had enough.

Therefore they would often sit together, talking desultorily.
What was really between them they could not utter. Their words
were only accidents in the mutual silence. When they talked,
they gossiped. She did not care for sewing.

She had a beautiful way of sitting musing, gratefully, as if
her heart were lit up. Sometimes she would turn to him,
laughing, to tell him some little thing that had happened during
the day. Then he would laugh, they would talk awhile, before the
vital, physical silence was between them again.

She was thin but full of colour and life. She was perfectly
happy to do just nothing, only to sit with a curious, languid
dignity, so careless as to be almost regal, so utterly
indifferent, so confident. The bond between them was
undefinable, but very strong. It kept everyone else at a
distance.

His face never changed whilst she knew him, it only became
more intense. It was ruddy and dark in its abstraction, not very
human, it had a strong, intent brightness. Sometimes, when his
eyes met hers, a yellow flash from them caused a darkness to
swoon over her consciousness, electric, and a slight strange
laugh came on his face. Her eyes would turn languidly, then
close, as if hypnotized. And they lapsed into the same potent
darkness. He had the quality of a young black cat, intent,
unnoticeable, and yet his presence gradually made itself felt,
stealthily and powerfully took hold of her. He called, not to
her, but to something in her, which responded subtly, out of her
unconscious darkness.

So they were together in a darkness, passionate, electric,
for ever haunting the back of the common day, never in the
light. In the light, he seemed to sleep, unknowing. Only she
knew him when the darkness set him free, and he could see with
his gold-glowing eyes his intention and his desires in the dark.
Then she was in a spell, then she answered his harsh,
penetrating call with a soft leap of her soul, the darkness woke
up, electric, bristling with an unknown, overwhelming
insinuation.

By now they knew each other; she was the daytime, the
daylight, he was the shadow, put aside, but in the darkness
potent with an overwhelming voluptuousness.

She learned not to dread and to hate him, but to fill herself
with him, to give herself to his black, sensual power, that was
hidden all the daytime. And the curious rolling of the eyes, as
if she were lapsing in a trance away from her ordinary
consciousness became habitual with her, when something
threatened and opposed her in life, the conscious life.

So they remained as separate in the light, and in the thick
darkness, married. He supported her daytime authority, kept it
inviolable at last. And she, in all the darkness, belonged to
him, to his close, insinuating, hypnotic familiarity.

All his daytime activity, all his public life, was a kind of
sleep. She wanted to be free, to belong to the day. And he ran
avoiding the day in work. After tea, he went to the shed to his
carpentry or his woodcarving. He was restoring the patched,
degraded pulpit to its original form.

But he loved to have the child near him, playing by his feet.
She was a piece of light that really belonged to him, that
played within his darkness. He left the shed door on the latch.
And when, with his second sense of another presence, he knew she
was coming, he was satisfied, he was at rest. When he was alone
with her, he did not want to take notice, to talk. He wanted to
live unthinking, with her presence flickering upon him.

He always went in silence. The child would push open the shed
door, and see him working by lamplight, his sleeves rolled back.
His clothes hung about him, carelessly, like mere wrapping.
Inside, his body was concentrated with a flexible, charged power
all of its own, isolated. From when she was a tiny child Ursula
could remember his forearm, with its fine black hairs and its
electric flexibility, working at the bench through swift,
unnoticeable movements, always ambushed in a sort of
silence.

She hung a moment in the door of the shed, waiting for him to
notice her. He turned, his black, curved eyebrows arching
slightly.

"Hullo, Twittermiss!"

And he closed the door behind her. Then the child was happy
in the shed that smelled of sweet wood and resounded to the
noise of the plane or the hammer or the saw, yet was charged
with the silence of the worker. She played on, intent and
absorbed, among the shavings and the little nogs of wood. She
never touched him: his feet and legs were near, she did not
approach them.

She liked to flit out after him when he was going to church
at night. If he were going to be alone, he swung her over the
wall, and let her come.

Again she was transported when the door was shut behind them,
and they two inherited the big, pale, void place. She would
watch him as he lit the organ candles, wait whilst he began his
practicing his tunes, then she ran foraging here and there, like
a kitten playing by herself in the darkness with eyes dilated.
The ropes hung vaguely, twining on the floor, from the bells in
the tower, and Ursula always wanted the fluffy, red-and-white,
or blue-and-white rope-grips. But they were above her.

Sometimes her mother came to claim her. Then the child was
seized with resentment. She passionately resented her mother's
superficial authority. She wanted to assert her own
detachment.

He, however, also gave her occasional cruel shocks. He let
her play about in the church, she rifled foot-stools and
hymn-books and cushions, like a bee among flowers, whilst the
organ echoed away. This continued for some weeks. Then the
charwoman worked herself up into a frenzy of rage, to dare to
attack Brangwen, and one day descended on him like a harpy. He
wilted away, and wanted to break the old beast's neck.

Instead he came glowering in fury to the house, and turned on
Ursula.

"Why, you tiresome little monkey, can't you even come to
church without pulling the place to bits?"

His voice was harsh and cat-like, he was blind to the child.
She shrank away in childish anguish and dread. What was it, what
awful thing was it?

The mother turned with her calm, almost superb manner.

"What has she done, then?"

"Done? She shall go in the church no more, pulling and
littering and destroying."

The wife slowly rolled her eyes and lowered her eyelids.

"What has she destroyed, then?"

He did not know.

"I've just had Mrs. Wilkinson at me," he cried, "with a list
of things she's done."

Ursula withered under the contempt and anger of the "she", as
he spoke of her.

"Send Mrs. Wilkinson here to me with a list of the things
she's done," said Anna. "I am the one to hear that."

"It's not the things the child has done," continued the
mother, "that have put you out so much, it's because you can't
bear being spoken to by that old woman. But you haven't the
courage to turn on her when she attacks you, you bring your rage
here."

He relapsed into silence. Ursula knew that he was wrong. In
the outside, upper world, he was wrong. Already came over the
child the cold sense of the impersonal world. There she knew her
mother was right. But still her heart clamoured after her
father, for him to be right, in his dark, sensuous underworld.
But he was angry, and went his way in blackness and brutal
silence again.

The child ran about absorbed in life, quiet, full of
amusement. She did not notice things, nor changes nor
alterations. One day she would find daisies in the grass,
another day, apple-blossoms would be sprinkled white on the
ground, and she would run among it, for pleasure because it was
there. Yet again birds would be pecking at the cherries, her
father would throw cherries down from the tree all round her on
the garden. Then the fields were full of hay.

She did not remember what had been nor what would be, the
outside things were there each day. She was always herself, the
world outside was accidental. Even her mother was accidental to
her: a condition that happened to endure.

Only her father occupied any permanent position in the
childish consciousness. When he came back she remembered vaguely
how he had gone away, when he went away she knew vaguely that
she must wait for his coming back. Whereas her mother, returning
from an outing, merely became present, there was no reason for
connecting her with some previous departure.

The return or the departure of the father was the one event
which the child remembered. When he came, something woke up in
her, some yearning. She knew when he was out of joint or
irritable or tired: then she was uneasy, she could not rest.

When he was in the house, the child felt full and warm, rich
like a creature in the sunshine. When he was gone, she was
vague, forgetful. When he scolded her even, she was often more
aware of him than of herself. He was her strength and her
greater self.

Ursula was three years old when another baby girl was born.
Then the two small sisters were much together, Gudrun and
Ursula. Gudrun was a quiet child who played for hours alone,
absorbed in her fancies. She was brown-haired, fair-skinned,
strangely placid, almost passive. Yet her will was indomitable,
once set. From the first she followed Ursula's lead. Yet she was
a thing to herself, so that to watch the two together was
strange. They were like two young animals playing together but
not taking real notice of each other. Gudrun was the mother's
favourite—except that Anna always lived in her latest
baby.

The burden of so many lives depending on him wore the youth
down. He had his work in the office, which was done purely by
effort of will: he had his barren passion for the church; he had
three young children. Also at this time his health was not good.
So he was haggard and irritable, often a pest in the house. Then
he was told to go to his woodwork, or to the church.

Between him and the little Ursula there came into being a
strange alliance. They were aware of each other. He knew the
child was always on his side. But in his consciousness he
counted it for nothing. She was always for him. He took it for
granted. Yet his life was based on her, even whilst she was a
tiny child, on her support and her accord.

Anna continued in her violent trance of motherhood, always
busy, often harassed, but always contained in her trance of
motherhood. She seemed to exist in her own violent fruitfulness,
and it was as if the sun shone tropically on her. Her colour was
bright, her eyes full of a fecund gloom, her brown hair tumbled
loosely over her ears. She had a look of richness. No
responsibility, no sense of duty troubled her. The outside,
public life was less than nothing to her, really.

Whereas when, at twenty-six, he found himself father of four
children, with a wife who lived intrinsically like the ruddiest
lilies of the field, he let the weight of responsibility press
on him and drag him. It was then that his child Ursula strove to
be with him. She was with him, even as a baby of four, when he
was irritable and shouted and made the household unhappy. She
suffered from his shouting, but somehow it was not really him.
She wanted it to be over, she wanted to resume her normal
connection with him. When he was disagreeable, the child echoed
to the crying of some need in him, and she responded blindly.
Her heart followed him as if he had some tie with her, and some
love which he could not deliver. Her heart followed him
persistently, in its love.

But there was the dim, childish sense of her own smallness
and inadequacy, a fatal sense of worthlessness. She could not do
anything, she was not enough. She could not be important to him.
This knowledge deadened her from the first.

Still she set towards him like a quivering needle. All her
life was directed by her awareness of him, her wakefulness to
his being. And she was against her mother.

Her father was the dawn wherein her consciousness woke up.
But for him, she might have gone on like the other children,
Gudrun and Theresa and Catherine, one with the flowers and
insects and playthings, having no existence apart from the
concrete object of her attention. But her father came too near
to her. The clasp of his hands and the power of his breast woke
her up almost in pain from the transient unconsciousness of
childhood. Wide-eyed, unseeing, she was awake before she knew
how to see. She was wakened too soon. Too soon the call had come
to her, when she was a small baby, and her father held her close
to his breast, her sleep-living heart was beaten into
wakefulness by the striving of his bigger heart, by his clasping
her to his body for love and for fulfilment, asking as a magnet
must always ask. From her the response had struggled dimly,
vaguely into being.

The children were dressed roughly for the country. When she
was little, Ursula pattered about in little wooden clogs, a blue
overall over her thick red dress, a red shawl crossed on her
breast and tied behind again. So she ran with her father to the
garden.

The household rose early. He was out digging by six o'clock
in the morning, he went to his work at half-past eight. And
Ursula was usually in the garden with him, though not near at
hand.

At Eastertime one year, she helped him to set potatoes. It
was the first time she had ever helped him. The occasion
remained as a picture, one of her earliest memories. They had
gone out soon after dawn. A cold wind was blowing. He had his
old trousers tucked into his boots, he wore no coat nor
waistcoat, his shirt-sleeves fluttered in the wind, his face was
ruddy and intent, in a kind of sleep. When he was at work he
neither heard nor saw. A long, thin man, looking still a youth,
with a line of black moustache above his thick mouth, and his
fine hair blown on his forehead, he worked away at the earth in
the grey first light, alone. His solitariness drew the child
like a spell.

The wind came chill over the dark-green fields. Ursula ran up
and watched him push the setting-peg in at one side of his ready
earth, stride across, and push it in the other side, pulling the
line taut and clear upon the clods intervening. Then with a
sharp cutting noise the bright spade came towards her, cutting a
grip into the new, soft earth.

He struck his spade upright and straightened himself.

"Do you want to help me?" he said.

She looked up at him from out of her little woollen
bonnet.

"Ay," he said, "you can put some taters in for me.
Look—like that—these little sprits standing
up—so much apart, you see."

And stooping down he quickly, surely placed the spritted
potatoes in the soft grip, where they rested separate and
pathetic on the heavy cold earth.

He gave her a little basket of potatoes, and strode himself
to the other end of the line. She saw him stooping, working
towards her. She was excited, and unused. She put in one potato,
then rearranged it, to make it sit nicely. Some of the sprits
were broken, and she was afraid. The responsibility excited her
like a string tying her up. She could not help looking with
dread at the string buried under the heaped-back soil. Her
father was working nearer, stooping, working nearer. She was
overcome by her responsibility. She put potatoes quickly into
the cold earth.

He came near.

"Not so close," he said, stooping over her potatoes, taking
some out and rearranging the others. She stood by with the
painful terrified helplessness of childhood. He was so unseeing
and confident, she wanted to do the thing and yet she could not.
She stood by looking on, her little blue overall fluttering in
the wind, the red woollen ends of her shawl blowing gustily.
Then he went down the row, relentlessly, turning the potatoes in
with his sharp spade-cuts. He took no notice of her, only worked
on. He had another world from hers.

She stood helplessly stranded on his world. He continued his
work. She knew she could not help him. A little bit forlorn, at
last she turned away, and ran down the garden, away from him, as
fast as she could go away from him, to forget him and his
work.

He missed her presence, her face in her red woollen bonnet,
her blue overall fluttering. She ran to where a little water ran
trickling between grass and stones. That she loved.

When he came by he said to her:

"You didn't help me much."

The child looked at him dumbly. Already her heart was heavy
because of her own disappointment. Her mouth was dumb and
pathetic. But he did not notice, he went his way.

And she played on, because of her disappointment persisting
even the more in her play. She dreaded work, because she could
not do it as he did it. She was conscious of the great breach
between them. She knew she had no power. The grown-up power to
work deliberately was a mystery to her.

He would smash into her sensitive child's world
destructively. Her mother was lenient, careless The children
played about as they would all day. Ursula was
thoughtless—why should she remember things? If across the
garden she saw the hedge had budded, and if she wanted these
greeny-pink, tiny buds for bread-and-cheese, to play at teaparty
with, over she went for them.

Then suddenly, perhaps the next day, her soul would almost
start out of her body as her father turned on her, shouting:

"Who's been tramplin' an' dancin' across where I've just
sowed seed? I know it's you, nuisance! Can you find nowhere else
to walk, but just over my seed beds? But it's like you, that
is—no heed but to follow your own greedy nose."

It had shocked him in his intent world to see the zigzagging
lines of deep little foot-prints across his work. The child was
infinitely more shocked. Her vulnerable little soul was flayed
and trampled. Why were the foot-prints there? She had not
wanted to make them. She stood dazzled with pain and shame and
unreality.

Her soul, her consciousness seemed to die away. She became
shut off and senseless, a little fixed creature whose soul had
gone hard and unresponsive. The sense of her own unreality
hardened her like a frost. She cared no longer.

And the sight of her face, shut and superior with
self-asserting indifference, made a flame of rage go over him.
He wanted to break her.

"I'll break your obstinate little face," he said, through
shut teeth, lifting his hand.

The child did not alter in the least. The look of
indifference, complete glancing indifference, as if nothing but
herself existed to her, remained fixed.

Yet far away in her, the sobs were tearing her soul. And when
he had gone, she would go and creep under the parlour sofa, and
lie clinched in the silent, hidden misery of childhood.

When she crawled out, after an hour or so, she went rather
stiffly to play. She willed to forget. She cut off her childish
soul from memory, so that the pain, and the insult should not be
real. She asserted herself only. There was not nothing in the
world but her own self. So very soon, she came to believe in the
outward malevolence that was against her. And very early, she
learned that even her adored father was part of this
malevolence. And very early she learned to harden her soul in
resistance and denial of all that was outside her, harden
herself upon her own being.

She never felt sorry for what she had done, she never forgave
those who had made her guilty. If he had said to her, "Why,
Ursula, did you trample my carefully-made bed?" that would have
hurt her to the quick, and she would have done anything for him.
But she was always tormented by the unreality of outside things.
The earth was to walk on. Why must she avoid a certain patch,
just because it was called a seed-bed? It was the earth to walk
on. This was her instinctive assumption. And when he bullied
her, she became hard, cut herself off from all connection, lived
in the little separate world of her own violent will.

As she grew older, five, six, seven, the connection between
her and her father was even stronger. Yet it was always
straining to break. She was always relapsing on her own violent
will into her own separate world of herself. This made him grind
his teeth with bitterness, for he still wanted her. But she
could harden herself into her own self's universe,
impregnable.

He was very fond of swimming, and in warm weather would take
her down to the canal, to a silent place, or to a big pond or
reservoir, to bathe. He would take her on his back as he went
swimming, and she clung close, feeling his strong movement under
her, so strong, as if it would uphold all the world. Then he
taught her to swim.

She was a fearless little thing, when he dared her. And he
had a curious craving to frighten her, to see what she would do
with him. He said, would she ride on his back whilst he jumped
off the canal bridge down into the water beneath.

She would. He loved to feel the naked child clinging on to
his shoulders. There was a curious fight between their two
wills. He mounted the parapet of the canal bridge. The water was
a long way down. But the child had a deliberate will set upon
his. She held herself fixed to him.

He leapt, and down they went. The crash of the water as they
went under struck through the child's small body, with a sort of
unconsciousness. But she remained fixed. And when they came up
again, and when they went to the bank, and when they sat on the
grass side by side, he laughed, and said it was fine. And the
dark-dilated eyes of the child looked at him wonderingly,
darkly, wondering from the shock, yet reserved and unfathomable,
so he laughed almost with a sob.

In a moment she was clinging safely on his back again, and he
was swimming in deep water. She was used to his nakedness, and
to her mother's nakedness, ever since she was born. They were
clinging to each other, and making up to each other for the
strange blow that had been struck at them. Yet still, on other
days, he would leap again with her from the bridge, daringly,
almost wickedly. Till at length, as he leapt, once, she dropped
forward on to his head, and nearly broke his neck, so that they
fell into the water in a heap, and fought for a few moments with
death. He saved her, and sat on the bank, quivering. But his
eyes were full of the blackness of death. It was as if death had
cut between their two lives, and separated them.

Still they were not separate. There was this curious taunting
intimacy between them. When the fair came, she wanted to go in
the swing-boats. He took her, and, standing up in the boat,
holding on to the irons, began to drive higher, perilously
higher. The child clung fast on her seat.

"Do you want to go any higher?" he said to her, and she
laughed with her mouth, her eyes wide and dilated. They were
rushing through the air.

"Yes," she said, feeling as if she would turn into vapour,
lose hold of everything, and melt away. The boat swung far up,
then down like a stone, only to be caught sickeningly up
again.

"Any higher?" he called, looking at her over his shoulder,
his face evil and beautiful to her.

She laughed with white lips.

He sent the swing-boat sweeping through the air in a great
semi-circle, till it jerked and swayed at the high horizontal.
The child clung on, pale, her eyes fixed on him. People below
were calling. The jerk at the top had almost shaken them both
out. He had done what he could—and he was attracting
censure. He sat down, and let the swingboat swing itself
out.

People in the crowd cried shame on him as he came out of the
swingboat. He laughed. The child clung to his hand, pale and
mute. In a while she was violently sick. He gave her lemonade,
and she gulped a little.

"Don't tell your mother you've been sick," he said. There was
no need to ask that. When she got home, the child crept away
under the parlour sofa, like a sick little animal, and was a
long time before she crawled out.

But Anna got to know of this escapade, and was passionately
angry and contemptuous of him. His golden-brown eyes glittered,
he had a strange, cruel little smile. And as the child watched
him, for the first time in her life a disillusion came over her,
something cold and isolating. She went over to her mother. Her
soul was dead towards him. It made her sick.

Still she forgot and continued to love him, but ever more
coldly. He was at this time, when he was about twenty-eight
years old, strange and violent in his being, sensual. He
acquired some power over Anna, over everybody he came into
contact with.

After a long bout of hostility, Anna at last closed with him.
She had now four children, all girls. For seven years she had
been absorbed in wifehood and motherhood. For years he had gone
on beside her, never really encroaching upon her. Then gradually
another self seemed to assert its being within him. He was still
silent and separate. But she could feel him all the while coming
near upon her, as if his breast and his body were threatening
her, and he was always coming closer. Gradually he became
indifferent of responsibility. He would do what pleased him, and
no more.

He began to go away from home. He went to Nottingham on
Saturdays, always alone, to the football match and to the
music-hall, and all the time he was watching, in readiness. He
never cared to drink. But with his hard, golden-brown eyes, so
keen seeing with their tiny black pupils, he watched all the
people, everything that happened, and he waited.

In the Empire one evening he sat next to two girls. He was
aware of the one beside him. She was rather small, common, with
a fresh complexion and an upper lip that lifted from her teeth,
so that, when she was not conscious, her mouth was slightly open
and her lips pressed outwards in a kind of blind appeal. She was
strongly aware of the man next to her, so that all her body was
still, very still. Her face watched the stage. Her arms went
down into her lap, very self-conscious and still.

A gleam lit up in him: should he begin with her? Should he
begin with her to live the other, the unadmitted life of his
desire? Why not? He had always been so good. Save for his wife,
he was a virgin. And why, when all women were different? Why,
when he would only live once? He wanted the other life. His own
life was barren, not enough. He wanted the other.

Her open mouth, showing the small, irregular, white teeth,
appealed to him. It was open and ready. It was so vulnerable.
Why should he not go in and enjoy what was there? The slim arm
that went down so still and motionless to the lap, it was
pretty. She would be small, he would be able almost to hold her
in his two hands. She would be small, almost like a child, and
pretty. Her childishness whetted him keenly. She would he
helpless between his hands.

"That was the best turn we've had," he said to her, leaning
over as he clapped his hands. He felt strong and unshakeable in
himself, set over against all the world. His soul was keen and
watchful, glittering with a kind of amusement. He was perfectly
self-contained. He was himself, the absolute, the rest of the
world was the object that should contribute to his being.

The girl started, turned round, her eyes lit up with an
almost painful flash of a smile, the colour came deeply in her
cheeks.

"Yes, it was," she said, quite meaninglessly, and she covered
her rather prominent teeth with her lips. Then she sat looking
straight before her, seeing nothing, only conscious of the
colour burning in her cheeks.

It pricked him with a pleasant sensation. His veins and his
nerves attended to her, she was so young and palpitating.

"It's not such a good programme as last week's," he said.

Again she half turned her face to him, and her clear, bright
eyes, bright like shallow water, filled with light, frightened,
yet involuntarily lighting and shaking with response.

"Oh, isn't it! I wasn't able to come last week."

He noted the common accent. It pleased him. He knew what
class she came of. Probably she was a warehouse-lass. He was
glad she was a common girl.

He proceeded to tell her about the last week's programme. She
answered at random, very confusedly. The colour burned in her
cheek. Yet she always answered him. The girl on the other side
sat remotely, obviously silent. He ignored her. All his address
was for his own girl, with her bright, shallow eyes and her
vulnerably opened mouth.

The talk went on, meaningless and random on her part, quite
deliberate and purposive on his. It was a pleasure to him to
make this conversation, an activity pleasant as a fine game of
chance and skill. He was very quiet and pleasant-humoured, but
so full of strength. She fluttered beside his steady pressure of
warmth and his surety.

He saw the performance drawing to a close. His senses were
alert and wilful. He would press his advantages. He followed her
and her plain friend down the stairs to the street. It was
raining.

"It's a nasty night," he said. "Shall you come and have a
drink of something—a cup of coffee—it's early
yet."

"Oh, I don't think so," she said, looking away into the
night.

"I wish you would," he said, putting himself as it were at
her mercy. There was a moment's pause.

"Come to Rollins?" he said.

"No—not there."

"To Carson's, then?"

There was a silence. The other girl hung on. The man was the
centre of positive force.

"Will your friend come as well?"

There was another moment of silence, while the other girl
felt her ground.

"No, thanks," she said. "I've promised to meet a friend."

"Another time, then?" he said.

"Oh, thanks," she replied, very awkward.

"Good night," he said.

"See you later," said his girl to her friend.

"Where?" said the friend.

"You know, Gertie," replied his girl.

"All right, Jennie."

The friend was gone into the darkness. He turned with his
girl to the tea-shop. They talked all the time. He made his
sentences in sheer, almost muscular pleasure of exercising
himself with her. He was looking at her all the time, perceiving
her, appreciating her, finding her out, gratifying himself with
her. He could see distinct attractions in her; her eyebrows,
with their particular curve, gave him keen aesthetic pleasure.
Later on he would see her bright, pellucid eyes, like shallow
water, and know those. And there remained the open, exposed
mouth, red and vulnerable. That he reserved as yet. And all the
while his eyes were on the girl, estimating and handling with
pleasure her young softness. About the girl herself, who or what
she was, he cared nothing, he was quite unaware that she was
anybody. She was just the sensual object of his attention.

"Shall we go, then?" he said.

She rose in silence, as if acting without a mind, merely
physically. He seemed to hold her in his will. Outside it was
still raining.

"Let's have a walk," he said. "I don't mind the rain, do
you?"

"No, I don't mind it," she said.

He was alert in every sense and fibre, and yet quite sure and
steady, and lit up, as if transfused. He had a free sensation of
walking in his own darkness, not in anybody else's world at all.
He was purely a world to himself, he had nothing to do with any
general consciousness. Just his own senses were supreme. All the
rest was external, insignificant, leaving him alone with this
girl whom he wanted to absorb, whose properties he wanted to
absorb into his own senses. He did not care about her, except
that he wanted to overcome her resistance, to have her in his
power, fully and exhaustively to enjoy her.

They turned into the dark streets. He held her umbrella over
her, and put his arm round her. She walked as if she were
unaware. But gradually, as he walked, he drew her a little
closer, into the movement of his side and hip. She fitted in
there very well. It was a real good fit, to walk with her like
this. It made him exquisitely aware of his own muscular self.
And his hand that grasped her side felt one curve of her, and it
seemed like a new creation to him, a reality, an absolute, an
existing tangible beauty of the absolute. It was like a star.
Everything in him was absorbed in the sensual delight of this
one small, firm curve in her body, that his hand, and his whole
being, had lighted upon.

He led her into the Park, where it was almost dark. He
noticed a corner between two walls, under a great overhanging
bush of ivy.

"Let us stand here a minute," he said.

He put down the umbrella, and followed her into the corner,
retreating out of the rain. He needed no eyes to see. All he
wanted was to know through touch. She was like a piece of
palpable darkness. He found her in the darkness, put his arms
round her and his hands upon her. She was silent and
inscrutable. But he did not want to know anything about her, he
only wanted to discover her. And through her clothing, what
absolute beauty he touched.

"Take your hat off," he said.

Silently, obediently, she shook off her hat and gave herself
to his arms again. He liked her—he liked the feel of
her—he wanted to know her more closely. He let his fingers
subtly seek out her cheek and neck. What amazing beauty and
pleasure, in the dark! His fingers had often touched Anna on the
face and neck like that. What matter! It was one man who touched
Anna, another who now touched this girl. He liked best his new
self. He was given over altogether to the sensuous knowledge of
this woman, and every moment he seemed to be touching absolute
beauty, something beyond knowledge.

Very close, marvelling and exceedingly joyful in their
discoveries, his hands pressed upon her, so subtly, so
seekingly, so finely and desirously searching her out, that she
too was almost swooning in the absolute of sensual knowledge. In
utter sensual delight she clenched her knees, her thighs, her
loins together! It was an added beauty to him.

But he was patiently working for her relaxation, patiently,
his whole being fixed in the smile of latent gratification, his
whole body electric with a subtle, powerful, reducing force upon
her. So he came at length to kiss her, and she was almost
betrayed by his insidious kiss. Her open mouth was too helpless
and unguarded. He knew this, and his first kiss was very gentle,
and soft, and assuring, so assuring. So that her soft,
defenseless mouth became assured, even bold, seeking upon his
mouth. And he answered her gradually, gradually, his soft kiss
sinking in softly, softly, but ever more heavily, more heavily
yet, till it was too heavy for her to meet, and she began to
sink under it. She was sinking, sinking, his smile of latent
gratification was becoming more tense, he was sure of her. He
let the whole force of his will sink upon her to sweep her away.
But it was too great a shock for her. With a sudden horrible
movement she ruptured the state that contained them both.

"Don't—don't!"

It was a rather horrible cry that seemed to come out of her,
not to belong to her. It was some strange agony of terror crying
out the words. There was something vibrating and beside herself
in the noise. His nerves ripped like silk.

"What's the matter?" he said, as if calmly. "What's the
matter?"

She came back to him, but trembling, reservedly this
time.

Her cry had given him gratification. But he knew he had been
too sudden for her. He was now careful. For a while he merely
sheltered her. Also there had broken a flaw into his perfect
will. He wanted to persist, to begin again, to lead up to the
point where he had let himself go on her, and then manage more
carefully, successfully. So far she had won. And the battle was
not over yet. But another voice woke in him and prompted him to
let her go—let her go in contempt.

He sheltered her, and soothed her, and caressed her, and
kissed her, and again began to come nearer, nearer. He gathered
himself together. Even if he did not take her, he would make her
relax, he would fuse away her resistance. So softly, softly,
with infinite caressiveness he kissed her, and the whole of his
being seemed to fondle her. Till, at the verge, swooning at the
breaking point, there came from her a beaten, inarticulate,
moaning cry:

"Don't—oh, don't!"

His veins fused with extreme voluptuousness. For a moment he
almost lost control of himself, and continued automatically. But
there was a moment of inaction, of cold suspension. He was not
going to take her. He drew her to him and soothed her, and
caressed her. But the pure zest had gone. She struggled to
herself and realized he was not going to take her. And then, at
the very last moment, when his fondling had come near again, his
hot living desire despising her, against his cold sensual
desire, she broke violently away from him.

"Don't," she cried, harsh now with hatred, and she flung her
hand across and hit him violently. "Keep off of me."

His blood stood still for a moment. Then the smile came again
within him, steady, cruel.

"Why, what's the matter?" he said, with suave irony.
"Nobody's going to hurt you."

"I know what you want," she said.

"I know what I want," he said. "What's the odds?"

"Well, you're not going to have it off me."

"Aren't I? Well, then I'm not. It's no use crying about it,
is it?"

"No, it isn't," said the girl, rather disconcerted by his
irony.

"But there's no need to have a row about it. We can kiss good
night just the same, can't we?"

She was silent in the darkness.

"Or do you want your hat and umbrella to go home this
minute?"

Still she was silent. He watched her dark figure as she stood
there on the edge of the faint darkness, and he waited.

"Come and say good night nicely, if we're going to say it,"
he said.

Still she did not stir. He put his hand out and drew her into
the darkness again.

"It's warmer in here," he said; "a lot cosier."

His will had not yet relaxed from her. The moment of hatred
exhilarated him.

"I'm going now," she muttered, as he closed his hand over
her.

"See how well you fit your place," he said, as he drew her to
her previous position, close upon him. "What do you want to
leave it for?"

And gradually the intoxication invaded him again, the zest
came back. After all, why should he not take her?

But she did not yield to him entirely.

"Are you a married man?" she asked at length.

"What if I am?" he said.

She did not answer.

"I don't ask you whether you're married or not," he
said.

"You know jolly well I'm not," she answered hotly. Oh,
if she could only break away from him, if only she need not
yield to him.

At length her will became cold against him. She had escaped.
But she hated him for her escape more than for her danger. Did
he despise her so coldly? And she was in torture of adherence to
him still.

"Shall I see you next week—next Saturday?" he said, as
they returned to the town. She did not answer.

"Come to the Empire with me—you and Gertie," he
said.

"I should look well, going with a married man," she said.

"I'm no less of a man for being married, am I?" he said.

"Oh, it's a different matter altogether with a married man,"
she said, in a ready-made speech that showed her chagrin.

"How's that?" he asked.

But she would not enlighten him. Yet she promised, without
promising, to be at the meeting-place next Saturday evening.

So he left her. He did not know her name. He caught a train
and went home.

It was the last train, he was very late. He was not home till
midnight. But he was quite indifferent. He had no real relation
with his home, not this man which he now was. Anna was sitting
up for him. She saw the queer, absolved look on his face, a sort
of latent, almost sinister smile, as if he were absolved from
his "good" ties.

"Where have you been?" she asked, puzzled, interested.

"To the Empire."

"Who with?"

"By myself. I came home with Tom Cooper."

She looked at him, and wondered what he had been doing She
was indifferent as to whether he lied or not.

"You have come home very strange," she said. And there was an
appreciative inflexion in the speech.

He was not affected. As for his humble, good self, he was
absolved from it. He sat down and ate heartily. He was not
tired. He seemed to take no notice of her.

For Anna the moment was critical. She kept herself aloof, and
watched him. He talked to her, but with a little indifference,
since he was scarcely aware of her. So, then she did not affect
him. Here was a new turn of affairs! He was rather attractive,
nevertheless. She liked him better than the ordinary mute,
half-effaced, half-subdued man she usually knew him to be. So,
he was blossoming out into his real self! It piqued her. Very
good, let him blossom! She liked a new turn of affairs. He was a
strange man come home to her. Glancing at him, she saw she could
not reduce him to what he had been before. In an instant she
gave it up. Yet not without a pang of rage, which would insist
on their old, beloved love, their old, accustomed intimacy and
her old, established supremacy. She almost rose up to fight for
them. And looking at him, and remembering his father, she was
wary. This was the new turn of affairs!

Very good, if she could not influence him in the old way, she
would be level with him in the new. Her old defiant hostility
came up. Very good, she too was out on her own adventure. Her
voice, her manner changed, she was ready for the game. Something
was liberated in her. She liked him. She liked this strange man
come home to her. He was very welcome, indeed! She was very glad
to welcome a stranger. She had been bored by the old husband. To
his latent, cruel smile she replied with brilliant challenge. He
expected her to keep the moral fortress. Not she! It was much
too dull a part. She challenged him back with a sort of
radiance, very bright and free, opposite to him. He looked at
her, and his eyes glinted. She too was out in the field.

His senses pricked up and keenly attended to her. She
laughed, perfectly indifferent and loose as he was. He came
towards her. She neither rejected him nor responded to him. In a
kind of radiance, superb in her inscrutability, she laughed
before him. She too could throw everything overboard, love,
intimacy, responsibility. What were her four children to her
now? What did it matter that this man was the father of her four
children?

He was the sensual male seeking his pleasure, she was the
female ready to take hers: but in her own way. A man could turn
into a free lance: so then could a woman. She adhered as little
as he to the moral world. All that had gone before was nothing
to her. She was another woman, under the instance of a strange
man. He was a stranger to her, seeking his own ends. Very good.
She wanted to see what this stranger would do now, what he
was.

She laughed, and kept him at arm's length, whilst apparently
ignoring him. She watched him undress as if he were a stranger.
Indeed he was a stranger to her.

And she roused him profoundly, violently, even before he
touched her. The little creature in Nottingham had but been
leading up to this. They abandoned in one motion the moral
position, each was seeking gratification pure and simple.

Strange his wife was to him. It was as if he were a perfect
stranger, as if she were infinitely and essentially strange to
him, the other half of the world, the dark half of the moon. She
waited for his touch as if he were a marauder who had come in,
infinitely unknown and desirable to her. And he began to
discover her. He had an inkling of the vastness of the unknown
sensual store of delights she was. With a passion of
voluptuousness that made him dwell on each tiny beauty, in a
kind of frenzy of enjoyment, he lit upon her: her beauty, the
beauties, the separate, several beauties of her body.

He was quite ousted from himself, and sensually transported
by that which he discovered in her. He was another man revelling
over her. There was no tenderness, no love between them any
more, only the maddening, sensuous lust for discovery and the
insatiable, exorbitant gratification in the sensual beauties of
her body. And she was a store, a store of absolute beauties that
it drove him to contemplate. There was such a feast to enjoy,
and he with only one man's capacity.

He lived in a passion of sensual discovery with her for some
time—it was a duel: no love, no words, no kisses even,
only the maddening perception of beauty consummate, absolute
through touch. He wanted to touch her, to discover her,
maddeningly he wanted to know her. Yet he must not hurry, or he
missed everything. He must enjoy one beauty at a time. And the
multitudinous beauties of her body, the many little rapturous
places, sent him mad with delight, and with desire to be able to
know more, to have strength to know more. For all was there.

He would say during the daytime:

"To-night I shall know the little hollow under her ankle,
where the blue vein crosses." And the thought of it, and the
desire for it, made a thick darkness of anticipation.

He would go all the day waiting for the night to come, when
he could give himself to the enjoyment of some luxurious
absolute of beauty in her. The thought of the hidden resources
of her, the undiscovered beauties and ecstatic places of delight
in her body, waiting, only waiting for him to discover them,
sent him slightly insane. He was obsessed. If he did not
discover and make known to himself these delights, they might be
lost for ever. He wished he had a hundred men's energies, with
which to enjoy her. [He wished he were a cat, to lick her with a rough, grating, lascivious
tongue. He wanted to wallow in her, bury himself in her flesh, cover
himself over with her flesh.]

And she, separate, with a strange, dangerous, glistening look
in her eyes received all his activities upon her as if they were
expected by her, and provoked him when he was quiet to more,
till sometimes he was ready to perish for sheer inability to be
satisfied of her, inability to have had enough of her.

Their children became mere offspring to them, they lived in
the darkness and death of their own sensual activities.
Sometimes he felt he was going mad with a sense of Absolute
Beauty, perceived by him in her through his senses. It was
something too much for him. And in everything, was this same,
almost sinister, terrifying beauty. But in the revelations of
her body through contact with his body, was the ultimate beauty,
to know which was almost death in itself, and yet for the
knowledge of which he would have undergone endless torture. He
would have forfeited anything, anything, rather than forego his
right even to the instep of her foot, and the place from which
the toes radiated out, the little, miraculous white plain from
which ran the little hillocks of the toes, and the folded,
dimpling hollows between the toes. He felt he would have died
rather than forfeit this.

This was what their love had become, a sensuality violent and
extreme as death. They had no conscious intimacy, no tenderness
of love. It was all the lust and the infinite, maddening
intoxication of the sense, a passion of death.

He had always, all his life, had a secret dread of Absolute
Beauty. It had always been like a fetish to him, something to
fear, really. For it was immoral and against mankind. So he had
turned to the Gothic form, which always asserted the broken
desire of mankind in its pointed arches, escaping the rolling,
absolute beauty of the round arch.

But now he had given way, and with infinite sensual violence
gave himself to the realization of this supreme, immoral,
Absolute Beauty, in the body of woman. It seemed to him, that it
came to being in the body of woman, under his touch. Under his
touch, even under his sight, it was there. But when he neither
saw nor touched the perfect place, it was not perfect, it was
not there. And he must make it exist.

But still the thing terrified him. Awful and threatening it
was, dangerous to a degree, even whilst he gave himself to it.
It was pure darkness, also. All the shameful things of the body
revealed themselves to him now with a sort of sinister, tropical
beauty. All the shameful, natural and unnatural acts of sensual
voluptuousness which he and the woman partook of together,
created together, they had their heavy beauty and their delight.
Shame, what was it? It was part of extreme delight. It was that
part of delight of which man is usually afraid. Why afraid? The
secret, shameful things are most terribly beautiful.

They accepted shame, and were one with it in their most
unlicensed pleasures. It was incorporated. It was a bud that
blossomed into beauty and heavy, fundamental gratification.

Their outward life went on much the same, but the inward life
was revolutionized. The children became less important, the
parents were absorbed in their own living.

And gradually, Brangwen began to find himself free to attend
to the outside life as well. His intimate life was so violently
active, that it set another man in him free. And this new man
turned with interest to public life, to see what part he could
take in it. This would give him scope for new activity, activity
of a kind for which he was now created and released. He wanted
to be unanimous with the whole of purposive mankind.

At this time Education was in the forefront as a subject of
interest. There was the talk of new Swedish methods, of handwork
instruction, and so on. Brangwen embraced sincerely the idea of
handwork in schools. For the first time, he began to take real
interest in a public affair. He had at length, from his profound
sensual activity, developed a real purposive self.

There was talk of night-schools, and of handicraft classes.
He wanted to start a woodwork class in Cossethay, to teach
carpentry and joinery and wood-carving to the village boys, two
nights a week. This seemed to him a supremely desirable thing to
be doing. His pay would be very little—and when he had it,
he spent it all on extra wood and tools. But he was very happy
and keen in his new public spirit.

He started his night-classes in woodwork when he was thirty
years old. By this time he had five children, the last a boy.
But boy or girl mattered very little to him. He had a natural
blood-affection for his children, and he liked them as they
turned up: boys or girls. Only he was fondest of Ursula.
Somehow, she seemed to be at the back of his new night-school
venture.

The house by the yew trees was in connection with the great
human endeavour at last. It gained a new vigour thereby.

To Ursula, a child of eight, the increase in magic was
considerable. She heard all the talk, she saw the parish room
fitted up as a workshop. The parish room was a high, stone,
barn-like, ecclesiastical building standing away by itself in
the Brangwens' second garden, across the lane. She was always
attracted by its age and its stranded obsoleteness. Now she
watched preparations made, she sat on the flight of stone steps
that came down from the porch to the garden, and heard her
father and the vicar talking and planning and working. Then an
inspector came, a very strange man, and stayed talking with her
father all one evening. Everything was settled, and twelve boys
enrolled their names. It was very exciting.

But to Ursula, everything her father did was magic. Whether
he came from Ilkeston with news of the town, whether he went
across to the church with his music or his tools on a sunny
evening, whether he sat in his white surplice at the organ on
Sundays, leading the singing with his strong tenor voice, or
whether he were in the workshop with the boys, he was always a
centre of magic and fascination to her, his voice, sounding out
in command, cheerful, laconic, had always a twang in it that
sent a thrill over her blood, and hypnotized her. She seemed to
run in the shadow of some dark, potent secret of which she would
not, of whose existence even she dared not become conscious, it
cast such a spell over her, and so darkened her mind.







CHAPTER IXIX

THE MARSH AND THE FLOOD

There was always regular connection between the Yew Cottage
and the Marsh, yet the two households remained separate,
distinct.

After Anna's marriage, the Marsh became the home of the two
boys, Tom and Fred. Tom was a rather short, good-looking youth,
with crisp black hair and long black eyelashes and soft, dark,
possessed eyes. He had a quick intelligence. From the High
School he went to London to study. He had an instinct for
attracting people of character and energy. He gave place
entirely to the other person, and at the same time kept himself
independent. He scarcely existed except through other people.
When he was alone he was unresolved. When he was with another
man, he seemed to add himself to the other, make the other
bigger than life size. So that a few people loved him and
attained a sort of fulfilment in him. He carefully chose these
few.

He had a subtle, quick, critical intelligence, a mind that
was like a scale or balance. There was something of a woman in
all this.

In London he had been the favourite pupil of an engineer, a
clever man, who became well-known at the time when Tom Brangwen
had just finished his studies. Through this master the youth
kept acquaintance with various individual, outstanding
characters. He never asserted himself. He seemed to be there to
estimate and establish the rest. He was like a presence that
makes us aware of our own being. So that he was while still
young connected with some of the most energetic scientific and
mathematical people in London. They took him as an equal. Quiet
and perceptive and impersonal as he was, he kept his place and
learned how to value others in just degree. He was there like a
judgment. Besides, he was very good-looking, of medium stature,
but beautifully proportioned, dark, with fine colouring, always
perfectly healthy.

His father allowed him a liberal pocket-money, besides which
he had a sort of post as assistant to his chief. Then from time
to time the young man appeared at the Marsh, curiously
attractive, well-dressed, reserved, having by nature a subtle,
refined manner. And he set the change in the farm.

Fred, the younger brother, was a Brangwen, large-boned,
blue-eyed, English. He was his father's very son, the two men,
father and son, were supremely at ease with one another. Fred
was succeeding to the farm.

Between the elder brother and the younger existed an almost
passionate love. Tom watched over Fred with a woman's poignant
attention and self-less care. Fred looked up to Tom as to
something miraculous, that which he himself would aspire to be,
were he great also.

So that after Anna's departure, the Marsh began to take on a
new tone. The boys were gentlemen; Tom had a rare nature and had
risen high. Fred was sensitive and fond of reading, he pondered
Ruskin and then the Agnostic writings. Like all the Brangwens,
he was very much a thing to himself, though fond of people, and
indulgent to them, having an exaggerated respect for them.

There was a rather uneasy friendship between him and one of
the young Hardys at the Hall. The two households were different,
yet the young men met on shy terms of equality.

It was young Tom Brangwen, with his dark lashes and beautiful
colouring, his soft, inscrutable nature, his strange repose and
his informed air, added to his position in London, who seemed to
emphasize the superior foreign element in the Marsh. When he
appeared, perfectly dressed, as if soft and affable, and yet
quite removed from everybody, he created an uneasiness in
people, he was reserved in the minds of the Cossethay and
Ilkeston acquaintances to a different, remote world.

He and his mother had a kind of affinity. The affection
between them was of a mute, distant character, but radical. His
father was always uneasy and slightly deferential to his eldest
son. Tom also formed the link that kept the Marsh in real
connection with the Skrebenskys, now quite important people in
their own district.

So a change in tone came over the Marsh. Tom Brangwen the
father, as he grew older, seemed to mature into a
gentleman-farmer. His figure lent itself: burly and handsome.
His face remained fresh and his blue eyes as full of light, his
thick hair and beard had turned gradually to a silky whiteness.
It was his custom to laugh a great deal, in his acquiescent,
wilful manner. Things had puzzled him very much, so he had taken
the line of easy, good-humoured acceptance. He was not
responsible for the frame of things. Yet he was afraid of the
unknown in life.

He was fairly well-off. His wife was there with him, a
different being from himself, yet somewhere vitally connected
with him:—who was he to understand where and how? His two
sons were gentlemen. They were men distinct from himself, they
had separate beings of their own, yet they were connected with
himself. It was all adventurous and puzzling. Yet one remained
vital within one's own existence, whatever the off-shoots.

So, handsome and puzzled, he laughed and stuck to himself as
the only thing he could stick to. His youngness and the wonder
remained almost the same in him. He became indolent, he
developed a luxuriant ease. Fred did most of the farm-work, the
father saw to the more important transactions. He drove a good
mare, and sometimes he rode his cob. He drank in the hotels and
the inns with better-class farmers and proprietors, he had
well-to-do acquaintances among men. But one class suited him no
better than another.

His wife, as ever, had no acquaintances. Her hair was
threaded now with grey, her face grew older in form without
changing in expression. She seemed the same as when she had come
to the Marsh twenty-five years ago, save that her health was
more fragile. She seemed always to haunt the Marsh rather than
to live there. She was never part of the life. Something she
represented was alien there, she remained a stranger within the
gates, in some ways fixed and impervious, in some ways curiously
refining. She caused the separateness and individuality of all
the Marsh inmates, the friability of the household.

When young Tom Brangwen was twenty-three years old there was
some breach between him and his chief which was never explained,
and he went away to Italy, then to America. He came home for a
while, then went to Germany; always the same good-looking,
carefully-dressed, attractive young man, in perfect health, yet
somehow outside of everything. In his dark eyes was a deep
misery which he wore with the same ease and pleasantness as he
wore his close-sitting clothes.

To Ursula he was a romantic, alluring figure. He had a grace
of bringing beautiful presents: a box of expensive sweets, such
as Cossethay had never seen; or he gave her a hair-brush and a
long slim mirror of mother-of-pearl, all pale and glimmering and
exquisite; or he sent her a little necklace of rough stones,
amethyst and opal and brilliants and garnet. He spoke other
languages easily and fluently, his nature was curiously gracious
and insinuating. With all that, he was undefinably an outsider.
He belonged to nowhere, to no society.

Anna Brangwen had left her intimacy with her father
undeveloped since the time of her marriage. At her marriage it
had been abandoned. He and she had drawn a reserve between them.
Anna went more to her mother.

Then suddenly the father died.

It happened one springtime when Ursula was about eight years
old, he, Tom Brangwen, drove off on a Saturday morning to the
market in Nottingham, saying he might not be back till late, as
there was a special show and then a meeting he had to attend.
His family understood that he would enjoy himself.

The season had been rainy and dreary. In the evening it was
pouring with rain. Fred Brangwen, unsettled, uneasy, did not go
out, as was his wont. He smoked and read and fidgeted, hearing
always the trickling of water outside. This wet, black night
seemed to cut him off and make him unsettled, aware of himself,
aware that he wanted something else, aware that he was scarcely
living. There seemed to him to be no root to his life, no place
for him to get satisfied in. He dreamed of going abroad. But his
instinct knew that change of place would not solve his problem.
He wanted change, deep, vital change of living. And he did not
know how to get it.

Tilly, an old woman now, came in saying that the labourers
who had been suppering up said the yard and everywhere was just
a slew of water. He heard in indifference. But he hated a
desolate, raw wetness in the world. He would leave the
Marsh.

His mother was in bed. At last he shut his book, his mind was
blank, he walked upstairs intoxicated with depression and anger,
and, intoxicated with depression and anger, locked himself into
sleep.

Tilly set slippers before the kitchen fire, and she also went
to bed, leaving the door unlocked. Then the farm was in
darkness, in the rain.

At eleven o'clock it was still raining. Tom Brangwen stood in
the yard of the "Angel", Nottingham, and buttoned his coat.

"Oh, well," he said cheerfully, "it's rained on me before.
Put 'er in, Jack, my lad, put her in—Tha'rt a rare old
cock, Jacky-boy, wi' a belly on thee as does credit to thy
drink, if not to thy corn. Co' up lass, let's get off ter th'
old homestead. Oh, my heart, what a wetness in the night!
There'll be no volcanoes after this. Hey, Jack, my beautiful
young slender feller, which of us is Noah? It seems as though
the water-works is bursted. Ducks and ayquatic fowl 'll be king
o' the castle at this rate—dove an' olive branch an' all.
Stand up then, gel, stand up, we're not stoppin' here all night,
even if you thought we was. I'm dashed if the jumping rain
wouldn't make anybody think they was drunk. Hey, Jack—does
rain-water wash the sense in, or does it wash it out?" And he
laughed to himself at the joke.

He was always ashamed when he had to drive after he had been
drinking, always apologetic to the horse. His apologetic frame
made him facetious. He was aware of his inability to walk quite
straight. Nevertheless his will kept stiff and attentive, in all
his fuddleness.

He mounted and bowled off through the gates of the innyard.
The mare went well, he sat fixed, the rain beating on his face.
His heavy body rode motionless in a kind of sleep, one centre of
attention was kept fitfully burning, the rest was dark. He
concentrated his last attention on the fact of driving along the
road he knew so well. He knew it so well, he watched for it
attentively, with an effort of will.

He talked aloud to himself, sententious in his anxiety, as if
he were perfectly sober, whilst the mare bowled along and the
rain beat on him. He watched the rain before the gig-lamps, the
faint gleaming of the shadowy horse's body, the passing of the
dark hedges.

"It's not a fit night to turn a dog out," he said to himself,
aloud. "It's high time as it did a bit of clearing up, I'll be
damned if it isn't. It was a lot of use putting those ten loads
of cinders on th' road. They'll be washed to kingdom-come if it
doesn't alter. Well, it's our Fred's look-out, if they are. He's
top-sawyer as far as those things go. I don't see why I should
concern myself. They can wash to kingdom-come and back again for
what I care. I suppose they would be washed back again some day.
That's how things are. Th' rain tumbles down just to mount up in
clouds again. So they say. There's no more water on the earth
than there was in the year naught. That's the story, my boy, if
you understand it. There's no more to-day than there was a
thousand years ago—nor no less either. You can't wear
water out. No, my boy: it'll give you the go-by. Try to wear it
out, and it takes its hook into vapour, it has its fingers at
its nose to you. It turns into cloud and falleth as rain on the
just and unjust. I wonder if I'm the just or the unjust."

He started awake as the trap lurched deep into a rut. And he
wakened to the point in his journey. He had travelled some
distance since he was last conscious.

But at length he reached the gate, and stumbled heavily down,
reeling, gripping fast to the trap. He descended into several
inches of water.

"Be damned!" he said angrily. "Be damned to the miserable
slop."

And he led the horse washing through the gate. He was quite
drunk now, moving blindly, in habit. Everywhere there was water
underfoot.

The raised causeway of the house and the farm-stead was dry,
however. But there was a curious roar in the night which seemed
to be made in the darkness of his own intoxication. Reeling,
blinded, almost without consciousness he carried his parcels and
the rug and cushions into the house, dropped them, and went out
to put up the horse.

Now he was at home, he was a sleep-walker, waiting only for
the moment of activity to stop. Very deliberately and carefully,
he led the horse down the slope to the cart-shed. She shied and
backed.

"Why, wha's amiss?" he hiccupped, plodding steadily on. And
he was again in a wash of water, the horse splashed up water as
he went. It was thickly dark, save for the gig-lamps, and they
lit on a rippling surface of water.

"Well, that's a knock-out," he said, as he came to the
cart-shed, and was wading in six inches of water. But everything
seemed to him amusing. He laughed to think of six inches of
water being in the cart-shed.

He backed in the mare. She was restive. He laughed at the fun
of untackling the mare with a lot of water washing round his
feet. He laughed because it upset her. "What's amiss, what's
amiss, a drop o' water won't hurt you!" As soon as he had undone
the traces, she walked quickly away.

He hung up the shafts and took the gig-lamp. As he came out
of the familiar jumble of shafts and wheels in the shed, the
water, in little waves, came washing strongly against his legs.
He staggered and almost fell.

"Well, what the deuce!" he said, staring round at the running
water in the black, watery night.

He went to meet the running flood, sinking deeper and deeper.
His soul was full of great astonishment. He had to go and
look where it came from, though the ground was going from under
his feet. He went on, down towards the pond, shakily. He rather
enjoyed it. He was knee-deep, and the water was pulling heavily.
He stumbled, reeled sickeningly.

Fear took hold of him. Gripping tightly to the lamp, he
reeled, and looked round. The water was carrying his feet away,
he was dizzy. He did not know which way to turn. The water was
whirling, whirling, the whole black night was swooping in rings.
He swayed uncertainly at the centre of all the attack, reeling
in dismay. In his soul, he knew he would fall.

As he staggered something in the water struck his legs, and
he fell. Instantly he was in the turmoil of suffocation. He
fought in a black horror of suffocation, fighting, wrestling,
but always borne down, borne inevitably down. Still he wrestled
and fought to get himself free, in the unutterable struggle of
suffocation, but he always fell again deeper. Something struck
his head, a great wonder of anguish went over him, then the
blackness covered him entirely.

In the utter darkness, the unconscious, drowning body was
rolled along, the waters pouring, washing, filling in the place.
The cattle woke up and rose to their feet, the dog began to
yelp. And the unconscious, drowning body was washed along in the
black, swirling darkness, passively.

Mrs. Brangwen woke up and listened. With preternaturally
sharp senses she heard the movement of all the darkness that
swirled outside. For a moment she lay still. Then she went to
the window. She heard the sharp rain, and the deep running of
water. She knew her husband was outside.

"Fred," she called, "Fred!"

Away in the night was a hoarse, brutal roar of a mass of
water rushing downwards.

She went downstairs. She could not understand the multiplied
running of water. Stepping down the step into the kitchen, she
put her foot into water. The kitchen was flooded. Where did it
come from? She could not understand.

Water was running in out of the scullery. She paddled through
barefoot, to see. Water was bubbling fiercely under the outer
door. She was afraid. Then something washed against her,
something twined under her foot. It was the riding whip. On the
table were the rug and the cushion and the parcel from the
gig.

He had come home.

"Tom!" she called, afraid of her own voice.

She opened the door. Water ran in with a horrid sound.
Everywhere was moving water, a sound of waters.

"Tom!" she cried, standing in her nightdress with the candle,
calling into the darkness and the flood out of the doorway.

"Tom! Tom!"

And she listened. Fred appeared behind her, in trousers and
shirt.

"Where is he?" he asked.

He looked at the flood, then at his mother. She seemed small
and uncanny, elvish, in her nightdress.

"Go upstairs," he said. "He'll be in th' stable."

"To—om! To—om!" cried the elderly woman, with a
long, unnatural, penetrating call that chilled her son to the
marrow. He quickly pulled on his boots and his coat.

"Go upstairs, mother," he said; "I'll go an' see where he
is."

"To—om! To—o—om!" rang out the shrill,
unearthly cry of the small woman. There was only the noise of
water and the mooing of uneasy cattle, and the long yelping of
the dog, clamouring in the darkness.

Fred Brangwen splashed out into the flood with a lantern. His
mother stood on a chair in the doorway, watching him go. It was
all water, water, running, flashing under the lantern.

"Tom! Tom! To—o—om!" came her long, unnatural
cry, ringing over the night. It made her son feel cold in his
soul.

And the unconscious, drowning body of the father rolled on
below the house, driven by the black water towards the
high-road.

Tilly appeared, a skirt over her nightdress. She saw her
mistress clinging on the top of a chair in the open doorway, a
candle burning on the table.

"God's sake!" cried the old serving-woman. "The cut's burst.
That embankment's broke down. Whativer are we goin' to do!"

Mrs. Brangwen watched her son, and the lantern, go along the
upper causeway to the stable. Then she saw the dark figure of a
horse: then her son hung the lamp in the stable, and the light
shone out faintly on him as he untackled the mare. The mother
saw the soft blazed face of the horse thrust forward into the
stable-door. The stables were still above the flood. But the
water flowed strongly into the house.

"It's getting higher," said Tilly. "Hasn't master come
in?"

Mrs. Brangwen did not hear.

"Isn't he the—ere?" she called, in her far-reaching,
terrifying voice.

"No," came the short answer out of the night.

"Go and loo—ok for him."

His mother's voice nearly drove the youth mad.

He put the halter on the horse and shut the stable door. He
came splashing back through the water, the lantern swinging.

The unconscious, drowning body was pushed past the house in
the deepest current. Fred Brangwen came to his mother.

"I'll go to th' cart-shed," he said.

"To—om, To—o—om!" rang out the strong,
inhuman cry. Fred Brangwen's blood froze, his heart was very
angry. He gripped his veins in a frenzy. Why was she yelling
like this? He could not bear the sight of her, perched on a
chair in her white nightdress in the doorway, elvish and
horrible.

"He's taken the mare out of the trap, so he's all right," he
said, growling, pretending to be normal.

But as he descended to the cart-shed, he sank into a foot of
water. He heard the rushing in the distance, he knew the canal
had broken down. The water was running deeper.

The trap was there all right, but no signs of his father. The
young man waded down to the pond. The water rose above his
knees, it swirled and forced him. He drew back.

"Is he the—e—ere?" came the maddening cry of the
mother.

"No," was the sharp answer.

"To—om—To—o—om!" came the piercing,
free, unearthly call. It seemed high and supernatural, almost
pure. Fred Brangwen hated it. It nearly drove him mad. So
awfully it sang out, almost like a song.

The water was flowing fuller into the house.

"You'd better go up to Beeby's and bring him and Arthur down,
and tell Mrs. Beeby to fetch Wilkinson," said Fred to Tilly. He
forced his mother to go upstairs.

"I know your father is drowned," she said, in a curious
dismay.

The flood rose through the night, till it washed the kettle
off the hob in the kitchen. Mrs. Brangwen sat alone at a window
upstairs. She called no more. The men were busy with the pigs
and the cattle. They were coming with a boat for her.

Towards morning the rain ceased, the stars came out over the
noise and the terrifying clucking and trickling of the water.
Then there was a pallor in the east, the light began to come. In
the ruddy light of the dawn she saw the waters spreading out,
moving sluggishly, the buildings rising out of a waste of water.
Birds began to sing, drowsily, and as if slightly hoarse with
the dawn. It grew brighter. Up the second field was the great,
raw gap in the canal embankment.

Mrs. Brangwen went from window to window, watching the flood.
Somebody had brought a little boat. The light grew stronger, the
red gleam was gone off the flood-waters, day took place. Mrs.
Brangwen went from the front of the house to the back, looking
out, intent and unrelaxing, on the pallid morning of spring.

She saw a glimpse of her husband's buff coat in the floods,
as the water rolled the body against the garden hedge. She
called to the men in the boat. She was glad he was found. They
dragged him out of the hedge. They could not lift him into the
boat. Fred Brangwen jumped into the water, up to his waist, and
half carried the body of his father through the flood to the
road. Hay and twigs and dirt were in the beard and hair. The
youth pushed through the water crying loudly without tears, like
a stricken animal. The mother at the window cried, making no
trouble.

The doctor came. But the body was dead. They carried it up to
Cossethay, to Anna's house.

When Anna Brangwen heard the news, she pressed back her head
and rolled her eyes, as if something were reaching forward to
bite at her throat. She pressed back her head, her mind was
driven back to sleep. Since she had married and become a mother,
the girl she had been was forgotten. Now, the shock threatened
to break in upon her and sweep away all her intervening life,
make her as a girl of eighteen again, loving her father. So she
pressed back, away from the shock, she clung to her present
life.

It was when they brought him to her house dead and in his wet
clothes, his wet, sodden clothes, fully dressed as he came from
market, yet all sodden and inert, that the shock really broke
into her, and she was terrified. A big, soaked, inert heap, he
was, who had been to her the image of power and strong life.

Almost in horror, she began to take the wet things from him,
to pull off him the incongruous market-clothes of a well-to-do
farmer. The children were sent away to the Vicarage, the dead
body lay on the parlour floor, Anna quickly began to undress
him, laid his fob and seals in a wet heap on the table. Her
husband and the woman helped her. They cleared and washed the
body, and laid it on the bed.

There, it looked still and grand. He was perfectly calm in
death, and, now he was laid in line, inviolable, unapproachable.
To Anna, he was the majesty of the inaccessible male, the
majesty of death. It made her still and awe-stricken, almost
glad.

Lydia Brangwen, the mother, also came and saw the impressive,
inviolable body of the dead man. She went pale, seeing death. He
was beyond change or knowledge, absolute, laid in line with the
infinite. What had she to do with him? He was a majestic
Abstraction, made visible now for a moment, inviolate, absolute.
And who could lay claim to him, who could speak of him, of the
him who was revealed in the stripped moment of transit from life
into death? Neither the living nor the dead could claim him, he
was both the one and the other, inviolable, inaccessibly
himself.

"I shared life with you, I belong in my own way to eternity,"
said Lydia Brangwen, her heart cold, knowing her own
singleness.

"I did not know you in life. You are beyond me, supreme now
in death," said Anna Brangwen, awe-stricken, almost glad.

It was the sons who could not bear it. Fred Brangwen went
about with a set, blanched face and shut hands, his heart full
of hatred and rage for what had been done to his father,
bleeding also with desire to have his father again, to see him,
to hear him again. He could not bear it.

Tom Brangwen only arrived on the day of the funeral. He was
quiet and controlled as ever. He kissed his mother, who was
still dark-faced, inscrutable, he shook hands with his brother
without looking at him, he saw the great coffin with its black
handles. He even read the name-plate, "Tom Brangwen, of the
Marsh Farm. Born ——. Died ——."

The good-looking, still face of the young man crinkled up for
a moment in a terrible grimace, then resumed its stillness. The
coffin was carried round to the church, the funeral bell tanged
at intervals, the mourners carried their wreaths of white
flowers. The mother, the Polish woman, went with dark, abstract
face, on her son's arm. He was good-looking as ever, his face
perfectly motionless and somehow pleasant. Fred walked with
Anna, she strange and winsome, he with a face like wood, stiff,
unyielding.

Only afterwards Ursula, flitting between the currant bushes
down the garden, saw her Uncle Tom standing in his black
clothes, erect and fashionable, but his fists lifted, and his
face distorted, his lips curled back from his teeth in a
horrible grin, like an animal which grimaces with torment,
whilst his body panted quick, like a panting dog's. He was
facing the open distance, panting, and holding still, then
panting rapidly again, but his face never changing from its
almost bestial look of torture, the teeth all showing, the nose
wrinkled up, the eyes, unseeing, fixed.

Terrified, Ursula slipped away. And when her Uncle Tom was in
the house again, grave and very quiet, so that he seemed almost
to affect gravity, to pretend grief, she watched his still,
handsome face, imagining it again in its distortion. But she saw
the nose was rather thick, rather Russian, under its transparent
skin, she remembered the teeth under the carefully cut moustache
were small and sharp and spaced. She could see him, in all his
elegant demeanour, bestial, almost corrupt. And she was
frightened. She never forgot to look for the bestial,
frightening side of him, after this.

He said "Good-bye" to his mother and went away at once.
Ursula almost shrank from his kiss, now. She wanted it,
nevertheless, and the little revulsion as well.

At the funeral, and after the funeral, Will Brangwen was
madly in love with his wife. The death had shaken him. But death
and all seemed to gather in him into a mad, over-whelming
passion for his wife. She seemed so strange and winsome. He was
almost beside himself with desire for her.

And she took him, she seemed ready for him, she wanted
him.

The grandmother stayed a while at the Yew Cottage, till the
Marsh was restored. Then she returned to her own rooms, quiet,
and it seemed, wanting nothing. Fred threw himself into the work
of restoring the farm. That his father was killed there, seemed
to make it only the more intimate and the more inevitably his
own place.

There was a saying that the Brangwens always died a violent
death. To them all, except perhaps Tom, it seemed almost
natural. Yet Fred went about obstinate, his heart fixed. He
could never forgive the Unknown this murder of his father.

After the death of the father, the Marsh was very quiet. Mrs.
Brangwen was unsettled. She could not sit all the evening
peacefully, as she could before, and during the day she was
always rising to her feet and hesitating, as if she must go
somewhere, and were not quite sure whither.

She was seen loitering about the garden, in her little
woollen jacket. She was often driven out in the gig, sitting
beside her son and watching the countryside or the streets of
the town, with a childish, candid, uncanny face, as if it all
were strange to her.

The children, Ursula and Gudrun and Theresa went by the
garden gate on their way to school. The grandmother would have
them call in each time they passed, she would have them come to
the Marsh for dinner. She wanted children about her.

Of her sons, she was almost afraid. She could see the sombre
passion and desire and dissatisfaction in them, and she wanted
not to see it any more. Even Fred, with his blue eyes and his
heavy jaw, troubled her. There was no peace. He wanted
something, he wanted love, passion, and he could not find them.
But why must he trouble her? Why must he come to her with his
seething and suffering and dissatisfactions? She was too
old.

Tom was more restrained, reserved. He kept his body very
still. But he troubled her even more. She could not but see the
black depths of disintegration in his eyes, the sudden glance
upon her, as if she could save him, as if he would reveal
himself.

And how could age save youth? Youth must go to youth. Always
the storm! Could she not lie in peace, these years, in the
quiet, apart from life? No, always the swell must heave upon her
and break against the barriers. Always she must be embroiled in
the seethe and rage and passion, endless, endless, going on for
ever. And she wanted to draw away. She wanted at last her own
innocence and peace. She did not want her sons to force upon her
any more the old brutal story of desire and offerings and deep,
deep-hidden rage of unsatisfied men against women. She wanted to
be beyond it all, to know the peace and innocence of age.

She had never been a woman to work much. So that now she
would stand often at the garden-gate, watching the scant world
go by. And the sight of children pleased her, made her happy.
She had usually an apple or a few sweets in her pocket. She
liked children to smile at her.

She never went to her husband's grave. She spoke of him
simply, as if he were alive. Sometimes the tears would run down
her face, in helpless sadness. Then she recovered, and was
herself again, happy.

On wet days, she stayed in bed. Her bedroom was her city of
refuge, where she could lie down and muse and muse. Sometimes
Fred would read to her. But that did not mean much. She had so
many dreams to dream over, such an unsifted store. She wanted
time.

Her chief friend at this period was Ursula. The little girl
and the musing, fragile woman of sixty seemed to understand the
same language. At Cossethay all was activity and passion,
everything moved upon poles of passion. Then there were four
children younger than Ursula, a throng of babies, all the time
many lives beating against each other.

So that for the eldest child, the peace of the grandmother's
bedroom was exquisite. Here Ursula came as to a hushed,
paradisal land, here her own existence became simple and
exquisite to her as if she were a flower.

Always on Saturdays she came down to the Marsh, and always
clutching a little offering, either a little mat made of strips
of coloured, woven paper, or a tiny basket made in the
kindergarten lesson, or a little crayon drawing of a bird.

When she appeared in the doorway, Tilly, ancient but still in
authority, would crane her skinny neck to see who it was.

"Oh, it's you, is it?" she said. "I thought we should be
seein' you. My word, that's a bobby-dazzlin' posy you've
brought!"

It was curious how Tilly preserved the spirit of Tom
Brangwen, who was dead, in the Marsh. Ursula always connected
her with her grandfather.

This day the child had brought a tight little nosegay of
pinks, white ones, with a rim of pink ones. She was very proud
of it, and very shy because of her pride.

"Your gran'mother's in her bed. Wipe your shoes well if
you're goin' up, and don't go burstin' in on her like a
skyrocket. My word, but that's a fine posy! Did you do it all by
yourself, an' all?"

Tilly stealthily ushered her into the bedroom. The child
entered with a strange, dragging hesitation characteristic of
her when she was moved. Her grandmother was sitting up in bed,
wearing a little grey woollen jacket.

The child hesitated in silence near the bed, clutching the
nosegay in front of her. Her childish eyes were shining. The
grandmother's grey eyes shone with a similar light.

"How pretty!" she said. "How pretty you have made them! What
a darling little bunch."

Ursula, glowing, thrust them into her grandmother's hand,
saying, "I made them you."

"That is how the peasants tied them at home," said the
grandmother, pushing the pinks with her fingers, and smelling
them. "Just such tight little bunches! And they make wreaths for
their hair—they weave the stalks. Then they go round with
wreaths in their hair, and wearing their best aprons."

Ursula immediately imagined herself in this story-land.

"Did you used to have a wreath in your hair,
grandmother?"

"When I was a little girl, I had golden hair, something like
Katie's. Then I used to have a wreath of little blue flowers,
oh, so blue, that come when the snow is gone. Andrey, the
coachman, used to bring me the very first."

They talked, and then Tilly brought the tea-tray, set for
two. Ursula had a special green and gold cup kept for herself at
the Marsh. There was thin bread and butter, and cress for tea.
It was all special and wonderful. She ate very daintily, with
little fastidious bites.

"Why do you have two wedding-rings, grandmother?—Must
you?" asked the child, noticing her grandmother's ivory coloured
hand with blue veins, above the tray.

"If I had two husbands, child."

Ursula pondered a moment.

"Then you must wear both rings together?"

"Yes."

"Which was my grandfather's ring?"

The woman hesitated.

"This grandfather whom you knew? This was his ring, the red
one. The yellow one was your other grandfather's whom you never
knew."

Ursula looked interestedly at the two rings on the proffered
finger.

"Where did he buy it you?" she asked.

"This one? In Warsaw, I think."

"You didn't know my own grandfather then?"

"Not this grandfather."

Ursula pondered this fascinating intelligence.

"Did he have white whiskers as well?"

"No, his beard was dark. You have his brows, I think."

Ursula ceased and became self-conscious. She at once
identified herself with her Polish grandfather.

"And did he have brown eyes?"

"Yes, dark eyes. He was a clever man, as quick as a lion. He
was never still."

Lydia still resented Lensky. When she thought of him, she was
always younger than he, she was always twenty, or twenty-five,
and under his domination. He incorporated her in his ideas as if
she were not a person herself, as if she were just his
aide-de-camp, or part of his baggage, or one among his surgical
appliances. She still resented it. And he was always only
thirty: he had died when he was thirty-four. She did not feel
sorry for him. He was older than she. Yet she still ached in the
thought of those days.

"Did you like my first grandfather best?" asked Ursula.

"I liked them both," said the grandmother.

And, thinking, she became again Lensky's girl-bride. He was
of good family, of better family even than her own, for she was
half German. She was a young girl in a house of insecure
fortune. And he, an intellectual, a clever surgeon and
physician, had loved her. How she had looked up to him! She
remembered her first transports when he talked to her, the
important young man with the severe black beard. He had seemed
so wonderful, such an authority. After her own lax household,
his gravity and confident, hard authority seemed almost God-like
to her. For she had never known it in her life, all her
surroundings had been loose, lax, disordered, a welter.

"Miss Lydia, will you marry me?" he had said to her in
German, in his grave, yet tremulous voice. She had been afraid
of his dark eyes upon her. They did not see her, they were fixed
upon her. And he was hard, confident. She thrilled with the
excitement of it, and accepted. During the courtship, his kisses
were a wonder to her. She always thought about them, and
wondered over them. She never wanted to kiss him back. In her
idea, the man kissed, and the woman examined in her soul the
kisses she had received.

She had never quite recovered from her prostration of the
first days, or nights, of marriage. He had taken her to Vienna,
and she was utterly alone with him, utterly alone in another
world, everything, everything foreign, even he foreign to her.
Then came the real marriage, passion came to her, and she became
his slave, he was her lord, her lord. She was the girl-bride,
the slave, she kissed his feet, she had thought it an honour to
touch his body, to unfasten his boots. For two years, she had
gone on as his slave, crouching at his feet, embracing his
knees.

Children had come, he had followed his ideas. She was there
for him, just to keep him in condition. She was to him one of
the baser or material conditions necessary for his welfare in
prosecuting his ideas, of nationalism, of liberty, of
science.

But gradually, at twenty-three, twenty-four, she began to
realize that she too might consider these ideas. By his
acceptance of her self-subordination, he exhausted the feeling
in her. There were those of his associates who would discuss the
ideas with her, though he did not wish to do so himself. She
adventured into the minds of other men. His, then, was not the
only male mind! She did not exist, then, just as his attribute!
She began to perceive the attention of other men. An excitement
came over her. She remembered now the men who had paid her
court, when she was married, in Warsaw.

Then the rebellion broke out, and she was inspired too. She
would go as a nurse at her husband's side. He worked like a
lion, he wore his life out. And she followed him helplessly. But
she disbelieved in him. He was so separate, he ignored so much.
He counted too much on himself. His work, his ideas,—did
nothing else matter?

Then the children were dead, and for her, everything became
remote. He became remote. She saw him, she saw him go white when
he heard the news, then frown, as if he thought, "Why
have they died now, when I have no time to grieve?"

"He has no time to grieve," she had said, in her remote,
awful soul. "He has no time. It is so important, what he does!
He is then so self-important, this half-frenzied man! Nothing
matters, but this work of rebellion! He has not time to grieve,
nor to think of his children! He had not time even to beget
them, really."

She had let him go on alone. But, in the chaos, she had
worked by his side again. And out of the chaos, she had fled
with him to London.

He was a broken, cold man. He had no affection for her, nor
for anyone. He had failed in his work, so everything had failed.
He stiffened, and died.

She could not subscribe. He had failed, everything had
failed, yet behind the failure was the unyielding passion of
life. The individual effort might fail, but not the human joy.
She belonged to the human joy.

He died and went his way, but not before there was another
child. And this little Ursula was his grandchild. She was glad
of it. For she still honoured him, though he had been
mistaken.

She, Lydia Brangwen, was sorry for him now. He was
dead—he had scarcely lived. He had never known her. He had
lain with her, but he had never known her. He had never received
what she could give him. He had gone away from her empty. So, he
had never lived. So, he had died and passed away. Yet there had
been strength and power in him.

She could scarcely forgive him that he had never lived. If it
were not for Anna, and for this little Ursula, who had his
brows, there would be no more left of him than of a broken
vessel thrown away, and just remembered.

Tom Brangwen had served her. He had come to her, and taken
from her. He had died and gone his way into death. But he had
made himself immortal in his knowledge with her. So she had her
place here, in life, and in immortality. For he had taken his
knowledge of her into death, so that she had her place in death.
"In my father's house are many mansions."

She loved both her husbands. To one she had been a naked
little girl-bride, running to serve him. The other she loved out
of fulfilment, because he was good and had given her being,
because he had served her honourably, and become her man, one
with her.

She was established in this stretch of life, she had come to
herself. During her first marriage, she had not existed, except
through him, he was the substance and she the shadow running at
his feet. She was very glad she had come to her own self. She
was grateful to Brangwen. She reached out to him in gratitude,
into death.

In her heart she felt a vague tenderness and pity for her
first husband, who had been her lord. He was so wrong when he
died. She could not bear it, that he had never lived, never
really become himself. And he had been her lord! Strange, it all
had been! Why had he been her lord? He seemed now so far off, so
without bearing on her.

"Which did you, grandmother?"

"What?"

"Like best."

"I liked them both. I married the first when I was quite a
girl. Then I loved your grandfather when I was a woman. There is
a difference."

They were silent for a time.

"Did you cry when my first grandfather died?" the child
asked.

Lydia Brangwen rocked herself on the bed, thinking aloud.

"When we came to England, he hardly ever spoke, he was too
much concerned to take any notice of anybody. He grew thinner
and thinner, till his cheeks were hollow and his mouth stuck
out. He wasn't handsome any more. I knew he couldn't bear being
beaten, I thought everything was lost in the world. Only I had
your mother a baby, it was no use my dying.

"He looked at me with his black eyes, almost as if he hated
me, when he was ill, and said, 'It only wanted this. It only
wanted that I should leave you and a young child to starve in
this London.' I told him we should not starve. But I was young,
and foolish, and frightened, which he knew.

"He was bitter, and he never gave way. He lay beating his
brains, to see what he could do. 'I don't know what you will
do,' he said. 'I am no good, I am a failure from beginning to
end. I cannot even provide for my wife and child!'

"But you see, it was not for him to provide for us. My life
went on, though his stopped, and I married your grandfather.

"I ought to have known, I ought to have been able to say to
him: 'Don't be so bitter, don't die because this has failed. You
are not the beginning and the end.' But I was too young, he had
never let me become myself, I thought he was truly the beginning
and the end. So I let him take all upon himself. Yet all did not
depend on him. Life must go on, and I must marry your
grandfather, and have your Uncle Tom, and your Uncle Fred. We
cannot take so much upon ourselves."

The child's heart beat fast as she listened to these things.
She could not understand, but she seemed to feel far-off things.
It gave her a deep, joyous thrill, to know she hailed from far
off, from Poland, and that dark-bearded impressive man. Strange,
her antecedents were, and she felt fate on either side of her
terrible.

Almost every day, Ursula saw her grandmother, and every time,
they talked together. Till the grandmother's sayings and
stories, told in the complete hush of the Marsh bedroom,
accumulated with mystic significance, and became a sort of Bible
to the child.

And Ursula asked her deepest childish questions of her
grandmother.

"Will somebody love me, grandmother?"

"Many people love you, child. We all love you."

"But when I am grown up, will somebody love me?"

"Yes, some man will love you, child, because it's your
nature. And I hope it will be somebody who will love you for
what you are, and not for what he wants of you. But we have a
right to what we want."

Ursula was frightened, hearing these things. Her heart sank,
she felt she had no ground under her feet. She clung to her
grandmother. Here was peace and security. Here, from her
grandmother's peaceful room, the door opened on to the greater
space, the past, which was so big, that all it contained seemed
tiny, loves and births and deaths, tiny units and features
within a vast horizon. That was a great relief, to know the tiny
importance of the individual, within the great past.





CHAPTER X

THE WIDENING CIRCLE

It was very burdensome to Ursula, that she was the eldest of
the family. By the time she was eleven, she had to take to
school Gudrun and Theresa and Catherine. The boy, William,
always called Billy, so that he should not be confused with his
father, was a lovable, rather delicate child of three, so he
stayed at home as yet. There was another baby girl, called
Cassandra.

The children went for a time to the little church school just
near the Marsh. It was the only place within reach, and being so
small, Mrs. Brangwen felt safe in sending her children there,
though the village boys did nickname Ursula "Urtler", and Gudrun
"Good-runner", and Theresa "Tea-pot".

Gudrun and Ursula were co-mates. The second child, with her
long, sleepy body and her endless chain of fancies, would have
nothing to do with realities. She was not for them, she was for
her own fancies. Ursula was the one for realities. So Gudrun
left all such to her elder sister, and trusted in her
implicitly, indifferently. Ursula had a great tenderness for her
co-mate sister.

It was no good trying to make Gudrun responsible. She floated
along like a fish in the sea, perfect within the medium of her
own difference and being. Other existence did not trouble her.
Only she believed in Ursula, and trusted to Ursula.

The eldest child was very much fretted by her responsibility
for the other young ones. Especially Theresa, a sturdy,
bold-eyed thing, had a faculty for warfare.

"Our Ursula, Billy Pillins has lugged my hair."

"What did you say to him?"

"I said nothing."

Then the Brangwen girls were in for a feud with the
Pillinses, or Phillipses.

"You won't pull my hair again, Billy Pillins," said Theresa,
walking with her sisters, and looking superbly at the freckled,
red-haired boy.

"Why shan't I?" retorted Billy Pillins.

"You won't because you dursn't," said the tiresome
Theresa.

"You come here, then, Tea-pot, an' see if I dursna."

Up marched Tea-pot, and immediately Billy Pillins lugged her
black, snaky locks. In a rage she flew at him. Immediately in
rushed Ursula and Gudrun, and little Katie, in clashed the other
Phillipses, Clem and Walter, and Eddie Anthony. Then there was a
fray. The Brangwen girls were well-grown and stronger than many
boys. But for pinafores and long hair, they would have carried
easy victories. They went home, however, with hair lugged and
pinafores torn. It was a joy to the Phillips boys to rip the
pinafores of the Brangwen girls.

Then there was an outcry. Mrs. Brangwen would not have
it; no, she would not. All her innate dignity and
standoffishness rose up. Then there was the vicar lecturing the
school. "It was a sad thing that the boys of Cossethay could not
behave more like gentlemen to the girls of Cossethay. Indeed,
what kind of boy was it that should set upon a girl, and kick
her, and beat her, and tear her pinafore? That boy deserved
severe castigation, and the name of coward, for no boy
who was not a coward—etc., etc."

Meanwhile much hang-dog fury in the Pillinses' hearts, much
virtue in the Brangwen girls', particularly in Theresa's. And
the feud continued, with periods of extraordinary amity, when
Ursula was Clem Phillips's sweetheart, and Gudrun was Walter's,
and Theresa was Billy's, and even the tiny Katie had to be Eddie
Ant'ny's sweetheart. There was the closest union. At every
possible moment the little gang of Brangwens and Phillipses flew
together. Yet neither Ursula nor Gudrun would have any real
intimacy with the Phillips boys. It was a sort of fiction to
them, this alliance and this dubbing of sweethearts.

Again Mrs. Brangwen rose up.

"Ursula, I will not have you raking the roads with
lads, so I tell you. Now stop it, and the rest will stop
it."

How Ursula hated always to represent the little
Brangwen club. She could never be herself, no, she was always
Ursula-Gudrun-Theresa-Catherine—and later even Billy was
added on to her. Moreover, she did not want the Phillipses
either. She was out of taste with them.

However, the Brangwen-Pillins coalition readily broke down,
owing to the unfair superiority of the Brangwens. The Brangwens
were rich. They had free access to the Marsh Farm. The school
teachers were almost respectful to the girls, the vicar spoke to
them on equal terms. The Brangwen girls presumed, they tossed
their heads.

"You're not ivrybody, Urtler Brangwin, ugly-mug," said
Clem Phillips, his face going very red.

"I'm better than you, for all that," retorted Urtler.

"You think you are—wi' a face like
that—Ugly Mug,—Urtler Brangwin," he began to jeer,
trying to set all the others in cry against her. Then there was
hostility again. How she hated their jeering. She became
cold against the Phillipses. Ursula was very proud in her
family. The Brangwen girls had all a curious blind dignity, even
a kind of nobility in their bearing. By some result of breed and
upbringing, they seemed to rush along their own lives without
caring that they existed to other people. Never from the start
did it occur to Ursula that other people might hold a low
opinion of her. She thought that whosoever knew her, knew she
was enough and accepted her as such. She thought it was a world
of people like herself. She suffered bitterly if she were forced
to have a low opinion of any person, and she never forgave that
person.

This was maddening to many little people. All their lives,
the Brangwens were meeting folk who tried to pull them down to
make them seem little. Curiously, the mother was aware of what
would happen, and was always ready to give her children the
advantage of the move.

When Ursula was twelve, and the common school and the
companionship of the village children, niggardly and begrudging,
was beginning to affect her, Anna sent her with Gudrun to the
Grammar School in Nottingham. This was a great release for
Ursula. She had a passionate craving to escape from the
belittling circumstances of life, the little jealousies, the
little differences, the little meannesses. It was a torture to
her that the Phillipses were poorer and meaner than herself,
that they used mean little reservations, took petty little
advantages. She wanted to be with her equals: but not by
diminishing herself. She did want Clem Phillips to be her
equal. But by some puzzling, painful fate or other, when he was
really there with her, he produced in her a tight feeling in the
head. She wanted to beat her forehead, to escape.

Then she found that the way to escape was easy. One departed
from the whole circumstance. One went away to the Grammar
School, and left the little school, the meagre teachers, the
Phillipses whom she had tried to love but who had made her fail,
and whom she could not forgive. She had an instinctive fear of
petty people, as a deer is afraid of dogs. Because she was
blind, she could not calculate nor estimate people. She must
think that everybody was just like herself.

She measured by the standard of her own people: her father
and mother, her grandmother, her uncles. Her beloved father, so
utterly simple in his demeanour, yet with his strong, dark soul
fixed like a root in unexpressed depths that fascinated and
terrified her: her mother, so strangely free of all money and
convention and fear, entirely indifferent to the world, standing
by herself, without connection: her grandmother, who had come
from so far and was centred in so wide an horizon: people must
come up to these standards before they could be Ursula's
people.

So even as a girl of twelve she was glad to burst the narrow
boundary of Cossethay, where only limited people lived. Outside,
was all vastness, and a throng of real, proud people whom she
would love.

Going to school by train, she must leave home at a quarter to
eight in the morning, and she did not arrive again till
half-past five at evening. Of this she was glad, for the house
was small and overful. It was a storm of movement, whence there
had been no escape. She hated so much being in charge.

The house was a storm of movement. The children were healthy
and turbulent, the mother only wanted their animal well-being.
To Ursula, as she grew a little older, it became a nightmare.
When she saw, later, a Rubens picture with storms of naked
babies, and found this was called "Fecundity", she shuddered,
and the world became abhorrent to her. She knew as a child what
it was to live amidst storms of babies, in the heat and swelter
of fecundity. And as a child, she was against her mother,
passionately against her mother, she craved for some
spirituality and stateliness.

In bad weather, home was a bedlam. Children dashed in and out
of the rain, to the puddles under the dismal yew trees, across
the wet flagstones of the kitchen, whilst the cleaning-woman
grumbled and scolded; children were swarming on the sofa,
children were kicking the piano in the parlour, to make it sound
like a beehive, children were rolling on the hearthrug, legs in
air, pulling a book in two between them, children, fiendish,
ubiquitous, were stealing upstairs to find out where our Ursula
was, whispering at bedroom doors, hanging on the latch, calling
mysteriously, "Ursula! Ursula!" to the girl who had locked
herself in to read. And it was hopeless. The locked door excited
their sense of mystery, she had to open to dispel the lure.
These children hung on to her with round-eyed excited
questions.

The mother flourished amid all this.

"Better have them noisy than ill," she said.

But the growing girls, in turn, suffered bitterly. Ursula was
just coming to the stage when Andersen and Grimm were being left
behind for the "Idylls of the King" and romantic
love-stories.

  "Elaine the fair Elaine the lovable,
Elaine the lily maid of Astolat,
High in her chamber in a tower to the east
Guarded the sacred shield of Launcelot."

How she loved it! How she leaned in her bedroom window with
her black, rough hair on her shoulders, and her warm face all
rapt, and gazed across at the churchyard and the little church,
which was a turreted castle, whence Launcelot would ride just
now, would wave to her as he rode by, his scarlet cloak passing
behind the dark yew trees and between the open space: whilst
she, ah, she, would remain the lonely maid high up and isolated
in the tower, polishing the terrible shield, weaving it a
covering with a true device, and waiting, waiting, always remote
and high.

At which point there would be a faint scuffle on the stairs,
a light-pitched whispering outside the door, and a creaking of
the latch: then Billy, excited, whispering:

"It's locked—it's locked."

Then the knocking, kicking at the door with childish knees,
and the urgent, childish:

"Ursula—our Ursula? Ursula? Eh, our Ursula?"

No reply.

"Ursula! Eh—our Ursula?" the name was shouted now Still
no answer.

"Mother, she won't answer," came the yell. "She's dead."

"Go away—I'm not dead. What do you want?" came the
angry voice of the girl.

"Open the door, our Ursula," came the complaining cry. It was
all over. She must open the door. She heard the screech of the
bucket downstairs dragged across the flagstones as the woman
washed the kitchen floor. And the children were prowling in the
bedroom, asking:

"What were you doing? What had you locked the door for?" Then
she discovered the key of the parish room, and betook herself
there, and sat on some sacks with her books. There began another
dream.

She was the only daughter of the old lord, she was gifted
with magic. Day followed day of rapt silence, whilst she
wandered ghost-like in the hushed, ancient mansion, or flitted
along the sleeping terraces.

Here a grave grief attacked her: that her hair was dark. She
must have fair hair and a white skin. She was rather
bitter about her black mane.

Never mind, she would dye it when she grew up, or bleach it
in the sun, till it was bleached fair. Meanwhile she wore a fair
white coif of pure Venetian lace.

She flitted silently along the terraces, where jewelled
lizards basked upon the stone, and did not move when her shadow
fell upon them. In the utter stillness she heard the tinkle of
the fountain, and smelled the roses whose blossoms hung rich and
motionless. So she drifted, drifted on the wistful feet of
beauty, past the water and the swans, to the noble park, where,
underneath a great oak, a doe all dappled lay with her four fine
feet together, her fawn nestling sun-coloured beside her.

Oh, and this doe was her familiar. It would talk to her,
because she was a magician, it would tell her stories as if the
sunshine spoke.

Then one day, she left the door of the parish room unlocked,
careless and unheeding as she always was; the children found
their way in, Katie cut her finger and howled, Billy hacked
notches in the fine chisels, and did much damage. There was a
great commotion.

The crossness of the mother was soon finished. Ursula locked
up the room again, and considered all was over. Then her father
came in with the notched tools, his forehead knotted.

"Who the deuce opened the door?" he cried in anger.

"It was Ursula who opened the door," said her mother. He had
a duster in his hand. He turned and flapped the cloth hard
across the girl's face. The cloth stung, for a moment the girl
was as if stunned. Then she remained motionless, her face closed
and stubborn. But her heart was blazing. In spite of herself the
tears surged higher, in spite of her they surged higher.

In spite of her, her face broke, she made a curious gulping
grimace, and the tears were falling. So she went away, desolate.
But her blazing heart was fierce and unyielding. He watched her
go, and a pleasurable pain filled him, a sense of triumph and
easy power, followed immediately by acute pity.

"I'm sure that was unnecessary—to hit the girl across
the face," said the mother coldly.

"A flip with the duster won't hurt her," he said.

"Nor will it do her any good."

For days, for weeks, Ursula's heart burned from this rebuff.
She felt so cruelly vulnerable. Did he not know how vulnerable
she was, how exposed and wincing? He, of all people, knew. And
he wanted to do this to her. He wanted to hurt her right through
her closest sensitiveness, he wanted to treat her with shame, to
maim her with insult.

Her heart burnt in isolation, like a watchfire lighted. She
did not forget, she did not forget, she never forgot. When she
returned to her love for her father, the seed of mistrust and
defiance burned unquenched, though covered up far from sight.
She no longer belonged to him unquestioned. Slowly, slowly, the
fire of mistrust and defiance burned in her, burned away her
connection with him.

She ran a good deal alone, having a passion for all moving,
active things. She loved the little brooks. Wherever she found a
little running water, she was happy. It seemed to make her run
and sing in spirit along with it. She could sit for hours by a
brook or stream, on the roots of the alders, and watch the water
hasten dancing over the stones, or among the twigs of a fallen
branch. Sometimes, little fish vanished before they had become
real, like hallucinations, sometimes wagtails ran by the water's
brink, sometimes other little birds came to drink. She saw a
kingfisher darting blue—and then she was very happy. The
kingfisher was the key to the magic world: he was witness of the
border of enchantment.

But she must move out of the intricately woven illusion of
her life: the illusion of a father whose life was an Odyssey in
an outer world; the illusion of her grandmother, of realities so
shadowy and far-off that they became as mystic
symbols:—peasant-girls with wreaths of blue flowers in
their hair, the sledges and the depths of winter; the
dark-bearded young grandfather, marriage and war and death; then
the multitude of illusions concerning herself, how she was truly
a princess of Poland, how in England she was under a spell, she
was not really this Ursula Brangwen; then the mirage of her
reading: out of the multicoloured illusion of this her life, she
must move on, to the Grammar School in Nottingham.

She was shy, and she suffered. For one thing, she bit her
nails, and had a cruel consciousness in her finger-tips, a
shame, an exposure. Out of all proportion, this shame haunted
her. She spent hours of torture, conjuring how she might keep
her gloves on: if she might say her hands were scalded, if she
might seem to forget to take off her gloves.

For she was going to inherit her own estate, when she went to
the High School. There, each girl was a lady. There, she was
going to walk among free souls, her co-mates and her equals, and
all petty things would be put away. Ah, if only she did not bite
her nails! If only she had not this blemish! She wanted so much
to be perfect—without spot or blemish, living the high,
noble life.

It was a grief to her that her father made such a poor
introduction. He was brief as ever, like a boy saying his
errand, and his clothes looked ill-fitting and casual. Whereas
Ursula would have liked robes and a ceremonial of introduction
to this, her new estate.

She made a new illusion of school. Miss Grey, the
headmistress, had a certain silvery, school-mistressy beauty of
character. The school itself had been a gentleman's house. Dark,
sombre lawns separated it from the dark, select avenue. But its
rooms were large and of good appearance, and from the back, one
looked over lawns and shrubbery, over the trees and the grassy
slope of the Arboretum, to the town which heaped the hollow with
its roofs and cupolas and its shadows.

So Ursula seated herself upon the hill of learning, looking
down on the smoke and confusion and the manufacturing, engrossed
activity of the town. She was happy. Up here, in the Grammar
School, she fancied the air was finer, beyond the factory smoke.
She wanted to learn Latin and Greek and French and mathematics.
She trembled like a postulant when she wrote the Greek alphabet
for the first time.

She was upon another hill-slope, whose summit she had not
scaled. There was always the marvellous eagerness in her heart,
to climb and to see beyond. A Latin verb was virgin soil to her:
she sniffed a new odour in it; it meant something, though she
did not know what it meant. But she gathered it up: it was
significant. When she knew that:

x2-y2 = (x + y)(x-y)

then she felt that she had grasped something, that she was
liberated into an intoxicating air, rare and unconditioned. And
she was very glad as she wrote her French exercise:

"J'AI DONNE LE PAIN A MON PETIT FRERE."

In all these things there was the sound of a bugle to her
heart, exhilarating, summoning her to perfect places. She never
forgot her brown "Longman's First French Grammar", nor her "Via
Latina" with its red edges, nor her little grey Algebra book.
There was always a magic in them.

At learning she was quick, intelligent, instinctive, but she
was not "thorough". If a thing did not come to her
instinctively, she could not learn it. And then, her mad rage of
loathing for all lessons, her bitter contempt of all teachers
and schoolmistresses, her recoil to a fierce, animal arrogance
made her detestable.

She was a free, unabateable animal, she declared in her
revolts: there was no law for her, nor any rule. She existed for
herself alone. Then ensued a long struggle with everybody, in
which she broke down at last, when she had run the full length
of her resistance, and sobbed her heart out, desolate; and
afterwards, in a chastened, washed-out, bodiless state, she
received the understanding that would not come before, and went
her way sadder and wiser.

Ursula and Gudrun went to school together. Gudrun was a shy,
quiet, wild creature, a thin slip of a thing hanging back from
notice or twisting past to disappear into her own world again.
She seemed to avoid all contact, instinctively, and pursued her
own intent way, pursuing half-formed fancies that had no
relation to anyone else.

She was not clever at all. She thought Ursula clever enough
for two. Ursula understood, so why should she, Gudrun, bother
herself? The younger girl lived her religious, responsible life
in her sister, by proxy. For herself, she was indifferent and
intent as a wild animal, and as irresponsible.

When she found herself at the bottom of the class, she
laughed, lazily, and was content, saying she was safe now. She
did not mind her father's chagrin nor her mother's tinge of
mortification.

"What do I pay for you to go to Nottingham for?" her father
asked, exasperated.

"Well, Dad, you know you needn't pay for me," she replied,
nonchalant. "I'm ready to stop at home."

She was happy at home, Ursula was not. Slim and unwilling
abroad, Gudrun was easy in her own house as a wild thing in its
lair. Whereas Ursula, attentive and keen abroad, at home was
reluctant, uneasy, unwilling to be herself, or unable.

Nevertheless Sunday remained the maximum day of the week for
both. Ursula turned passionately to it, to the sense of eternal
security it gave. She suffered anguish of fears during the
week-days, for she felt strong powers that would not recognize
her. There was upon her always a fear and a dislike of
authority. She felt she could always do as she wanted if she
managed to avoid a battle with Authority and the authorised
Powers. But if she gave herself away, she would be lost,
destroyed. There was always the menace against her.

This strange sense of cruelty and ugliness always imminent,
ready to seize hold upon her this feeling of the grudging power
of the mob lying in wait for her, who was the exception, formed
one of the deepest influences of her life. Wherever she was, at
school, among friends, in the street, in the train, she
instinctively abated herself, made herself smaller, feigned to
be less than she was, for fear that her undiscovered self should
be seen, pounced upon, attacked by brutish resentment of the
commonplace, the average Self.

She was fairly safe at school, now. She knew how to take her
place there, and how much of herself to reserve. But she was
free only on Sundays. When she was but a girl of fourteen, she
began to feel a resentment growing against her in her own home.
She knew she was the disturbing influence there. But as yet, on
Sundays, she was free, really free, free to be herself, without
fear or misgiving.

Even at its stormiest, Sunday was a blessed day. Ursula woke
to it with a feeling of immense relief. She wondered why her
heart was so light. Then she remembered it was Sunday. A
gladness seemed to burst out around her, a feeling of great
freedom. The whole world was for twenty-four hours revoked, put
back. Only the Sunday world existed.

She loved the very confusion of the household. It was lucky
if the children slept till seven o'clock. Usually, soon after
six, a chirp was heard, a voice, an excited chirrup began,
announcing the creation of a new day, there was a thudding of
quick little feet, and the children were up and about,
scampering in their shirts, with pink legs and glistening,
flossy hair all clean from the Saturday's night bathing, their
souls excited by their bodies' cleanliness.

As the house began to teem with rushing, half-naked clean
children, one of the parents rose, either the mother, easy and
slatternly, with her thick, dark hair loosely coiled and
slipping over one ear, or the father, warm and comfortable, with
ruffled black hair and shirt unbuttoned at the neck.

Then the girls upstairs heard the continual:

"Now then, Billy, what are you up to?" in the father's
strong, vibrating voice: or the mother's dignified:

"I have said, Cassie, I will not have it."

It was amazing how the father's voice could ring out like a
gong, without his being in the least moved, and how the mother
could speak like a queen holding an audience, though her blouse
was sticking out all round and her hair was not fastened up and
the children were yelling a pandemonium.

Gradually breakfast was produced, and the elder girls came
down into the babel, whilst half-naked children flitted round
like the wrong ends of cherubs, as Gudrun said, watching the
bare little legs and the chubby tails appearing and
disappearing.

Gradually the young ones were captured, and nightdresses
finally removed, ready for the clean Sunday shirt. But before
the Sunday shirt was slipped over the fleecy head, away darted
the naked body, to wallow in the sheepskin which formed the
parlour rug, whilst the mother walked after, protesting sharply,
holding the shirt like a noose, and the father's bronze voice
rang out, and the naked child wallowing on its back in the deep
sheepskin announced gleefully:

"I'm bading in the sea, mother."

"Why should I walk after you with your shirt?" said the
mother. "Get up now."

"I'm bading in the sea, mother," repeated the wallowing,
naked figure.

"We say bathing, not bading," said the mother, with her
strange, indifferent dignity. "I am waiting here with your
shirt."

At length shirts were on, and stockings were paired, and
little trousers buttoned and little petticoats tied behind. The
besetting cowardice of the family was its shirking of the garter
question.

"Where are your garters, Cassie?"

"I don't know."

"Well, look for them."

But not one of the elder Brangwens would really face the
situation. After Cassie had grovelled under all the furniture
and blacked up all her Sunday cleanliness, to the infinite grief
of everybody, the garter was forgotten in the new washing of the
young face and hands.

Later, Ursula would be indignant to see Miss Cassie marching
into church from Sunday school with her stocking sluthered down
to her ankle, and a grubby knee showing.

"It's disgraceful!" cried Ursula at dinner. "People will
think we're pigs, and the children are never washed."

"Never mind what people think," said the mother superbly. "I
see that the child is bathed properly, and if I satisfy myself I
satisfy everybody. She can't keep her stocking up and no garter,
and it isn't the child's fault she was let to go without
one."

The garter trouble continued in varying degrees, but till
each child wore long skirts or long trousers, it was not
removed.

On this day of decorum, the Brangwen family went to church by
the high-road, making a detour outside all the garden-hedge,
rather than climb the wall into the churchyard. There was no law
of this, from the parents. The children themselves were the
wardens of the Sabbath decency, very jealous and instant with
each other.

It came to be, gradually, that after church on Sundays the
house was really something of a sanctuary, with peace breathing
like a strange bird alighted in the rooms. Indoors, only reading
and tale-telling and quiet pursuits, such as drawing, were
allowed. Out of doors, all playing was to be carried on
unobtrusively. If there were noise, yelling or shouting, then
some fierce spirit woke up in the father and the elder children,
so that the younger were subdued, afraid of being
excommunicated.

The children themselves preserved the Sabbath. If Ursula in
her vanity sang:

  "Il était un' bergère
Et ron-ron-ron petit patapon,"

Theresa was sure to cry:

"That's not a Sunday song, our Ursula."

"You don't know," replied Ursula, superior. Nevertheless, she
wavered. And her song faded down before she came to the end.

Because, though she did not know it, her Sunday was very
precious to her. She found herself in a strange, undefined
place, where her spirit could wander in dreams, unassailed.

The white-robed spirit of Christ passed between olive trees.
It was a vision, not a reality. And she herself partook of the
visionary being. There was the voice in the night calling,
"Samuel, Samuel!" And still the voice called in the night. But
not this night, nor last night, but in the unfathomed night of
Sunday, of the Sabbath silence.

There was Sin, the serpent, in whom was also wisdom. There
was Judas with the money and the kiss.

But there was no actual Sin. If Ursula slapped Theresa
across the face, even on a Sunday, that was not Sin, the
everlasting. It was misbehaviour. If Billy played truant from
Sunday school, he was bad, he was wicked, but he was not a
Sinner.

Sin was absolute and everlasting: wickedness and badness were
temporary and relative. When Billy, catching up the local
jargon, called Cassie a "sinner", everybody detested him. Yet
when there came to the Marsh a flippetty-floppetty foxhound
puppy, he was mischievously christened "Sinner".

The Brangwens shrank from applying their religion to their
own immediate actions. They wanted the sense of the eternal and
immortal, not a list of rules for everyday conduct. Therefore
they were badly-behaved children, headstrong and arrogant,
though their feelings were generous. They had,
moreover—intolerable to their ordinary neighbours—a
proud gesture, that did not fit with the jealous idea of the
democratic Christian. So that they were always extraordinary,
outside of the ordinary.

How bitterly Ursula resented her first acquaintance with
evangelical teachings. She got a peculiar thrill from the
application of salvation to her own personal case. "Jesus died
for me, He suffered for me." There was a pride and a thrill in
it, followed almost immediately by a sense of dreariness. Jesus
with holes in His hands and feet: it was distasteful to her. The
shadowy Jesus with the Stigmata: that was her own vision. But
Jesus the actual man, talking with teeth and lips, telling one
to put one's finger into His wounds, like a villager gloating in
his sores, repelled her. She was enemy of those who insisted on
the humanity of Christ. If He were just a man, living in
ordinary human life, then she was indifferent.

But it was the jealousy of vulgar people which must insist on
the humanity of Christ. It was the vulgar mind which would allow
nothing extra-human, nothing beyond itself to exist. It was the
dirty, desecrating hands of the revivalists which wanted to drag
Jesus into this everyday life, to dress Jesus up in trousers and
frock-coat, to compel Him to a vulgar equality of footing. It
was the impudent suburban soul which would ask, "What would
Jesus do, if he were in my shoes?"

Against all this, the Brangwens stood at bay. If any one, it
was the mother who was caught by, or who was most careless of
the vulgar clamour. She would have nothing extra-human. She
never really subscribed, all her life, to Brangwen's mystical
passion.

But Ursula was with her father. As she became adolescent,
thirteen, fourteen, she set more and more against her mother's
practical indifference. To Ursula, there was something callous,
almost wicked in her mother's attitude. What did Anna Brangwen,
in these years, care for God or Jesus or Angels? She was the
immediate life of to-day. Children were still being born to her,
she was throng with all the little activities of her family. And
almost instinctively she resented her husband's slavish service
to the Church, his dark, subject hankering to worship an unseen
God. What did the unrevealed God matter, when a man had a young
family that needed fettling for? Let him attend to the immediate
concerns of his life, not go projecting himself towards the
ultimate.

But Ursula was all for the ultimate. She was always in revolt
against babies and muddled domesticity. To her Jesus was another
world, He was not of this world. He did not thrust His hands
under her face and, pointing to His wounds, say:

"Look, Ursula Brangwen, I got these for your sake. Now do as
you're told."

To her, Jesus was beautifully remote, shining in the
distance, like a white moon at sunset, a crescent moon beckoning
as it follows the sun, out of our ken. Sometimes dark clouds
standing very far off, pricking up into a clear yellow band of
sunset, of a winter evening, reminded her of Calvary, sometimes
the full moon rising blood-red upon the hill terrified her with
the knowledge that Christ was now dead, hanging heavy and dead
upon the Cross.

On Sundays, this visionary world came to pass. She heard the
long hush, she knew the marriage of dark and light was taking
place. In church, the Voice sounded, re-echoing not from this
world, as if the Church itself were a shell that still spoke the
language of creation.

"The Sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were
fair: and they took them wives of all which they chose.

"And the Lord said, My spirit shall not always strive with
Man, for that he also is flesh; yet his days shall be an hundred
and twenty years.

"There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after
that, when the Sons of God came in unto the daughters of men,
and they bare children unto them, the same became mighty men
which were of old, men of renown."

Over this Ursula was stirred as by a call from far off. In
those days, would not the Sons of God have found her fair, would
she not have been taken to wife by one of the Sons of God? It
was a dream that frightened her, for she could not understand
it.

Who were the sons of God? Was not Jesus the only begotten
Son? Was not Adam the only man created from God? Yet there were
men not begotten by Adam. Who were these, and whence did they
come? They too must derive from God. Had God many offspring,
besides Adam and besides Jesus, children whose origin the
children of Adam cannot recognize? And perhaps these children,
these sons of God, had known no expulsion, no ignominy of the
fall.

These came on free feet to the daughters of men, and saw they
were fair, and took them to wife, so that the women conceived
and brought forth men of renown. This was a genuine fate. She
moved about in the essential days, when the sons of God came in
unto the daughters of men.

Nor would any comparison of myths destroy her passion in the
knowledge. Jove had become a bull, or a man, in order to love a
mortal woman. He had begotten in her a giant, a hero.

Very good, so he had, in Greece. For herself, she was no
Grecian woman. Not Jove nor Pan nor any of those gods, not even
Bacchus nor Apollo, could come to her. But the Sons of God who
took to wife the daughters of men, these were such as should
take her to wife.

She clung to the secret hope, the aspiration. She lived a
dual life, one where the facts of daily life encompassed
everything, being legion, and the other wherein the facts of
daily life were superseded by the eternal truth. So utterly did
she desire the Sons of God should come to the daughters of men;
and she believed more in her desire and its fulfilment than in
the obvious facts of life. The fact that a man was a man, did
not state his descent from Adam, did not exclude that he was
also one of the unhistoried, unaccountable Sons of God. As yet,
she was confused, but not denied.

Again she heard the Voice:

"It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle,
than for a rich man to enter into heaven."

But it was explained, the needle's eye was a little gateway
for foot passengers, through which the great, humped camel with
his load could not possibly squeeze himself: or perhaps at a
great risk, if he were a little camel, he might get through. For
one could not absolutely exclude the rich man from heaven, said
the Sunday school teachers.

It pleased her also to know, that in the East one must use
hyperbole, or else remain unheard; because the Eastern man must
see a thing swelling to fill all heaven, or dwindled to a mere
nothing, before he is suitably impressed. She immediately
sympathized with this Eastern mind.

Yet the words continued to have a meaning that was untouched
either by the knowledge of gateways or hyperboles. The
historical, or local, or psychological interest in the words was
another thing. There remained unaltered the inexplicable value
of the saying. What was this relation between a needle's eye, a
rich man, and heaven? What sort of a needle's eye, what sort of
a rich man, what sort of heaven? Who knows? It means the
Absolute World, and can never be more than half interpreted in
terms of the relative world.

But must one apply the speech literally? Was her father a
rich man? Couldn't he get to heaven? Or was he only a half-rich
man? Or was he merely a poor man? At any rate, unless he gave
everything away to the poor, he would find it much harder to get
to heaven. The needle's eye would be too tight for him. She
almost wished he were penniless poor. If one were coming to the
base of it, any man was rich who was not as poor as the
poorest.

She had her qualms, when in imagination she saw her father
giving away their piano and the two cows, and the capital at the
bank, to the labourers of the district, so that they, the
Brangwens, should be as poor as the Wherrys. And she did not
want it. She was impatient.

"Very well," she thought, "we'll forego that heaven, that's
all—at any rate the needle's eye sort." And she dismissed
the problem. She was not going to be as poor as the Wherrys, not
for all the sayings on earth—the miserable squalid
Wherrys.

So she reverted to the non-literal application of the
scriptures. Her father very rarely read, but he had collected
many books of reproductions, and he would sit and look at these,
curiously intent, like a child, yet with a passion that was not
childish. He loved the early Italian painters, but particularly
Giotto and Fra Angelico and Filippo Lippi. The great
compositions cast a spell over him. How many times had he turned
to Raphael's "Dispute of the Sacrament" or Fra Angelico's "Last
Judgment" or the beautiful, complicated renderings of the
Adoration of the Magi, and always, each time, he received the
same gradual fulfilment of delight. It had to do with the
establishment of a whole mystical, architectural conception
which used the human figure as a unit. Sometimes he had to hurry
home, and go to the Fra Angelico "Last Judgment". The pathway of
open graves, the huddled earth on either side, the seemly heaven
arranged above, the singing process to paradise on the one hand,
the stuttering descent to hell on the other, completed and
satisfied him. He did not care whether or not he believed in
devils or angels. The whole conception gave him the deepest
satisfaction, and he wanted nothing more.

Ursula, accustomed to these pictures from her childhood,
hunted out their detail. She adored Fra Angelico's flowers and
light and angels, she liked the demons and enjoyed the hell. But
the representation of the encircled God, surrounded by all the
angels on high, suddenly bored her. The figure of the Most High
bored her, and roused her resentment. Was this the culmination
and the meaning of it all, this draped, null figure? The angels
were so lovely, and the light so beautiful. And only for this,
to surround such a banality for God!

She was dissatisfied, but not fit as yet to criticize. There
was yet so much to wonder over. Winter came, pine branches were
torn down in the snow, the green pine needles looked rich upon
the ground. There was the wonderful, starry, straight track of a
pheasant's footsteps across the snow imprinted so clear; there
was the lobbing mark of the rabbit, two holes abreast, two holes
following behind; the hare shoved deeper shafts, slanting, and
his two hind feet came down together and made one large pit; the
cat podded little holes, and birds made a lacy pattern.

Gradually there gathered the feeling of expectation.
Christmas was coming. In the shed, at nights, a secret candle
was burning, a sound of veiled voices was heard. The boys were
learning the old mystery play of St. George and Beelzebub. Twice
a week, by lamplight, there was choir practice in the church,
for the learning of old carols Brangwen wanted to hear. The
girls went to these practices. Everywhere was a sense of mystery
and rousedness. Everybody was preparing for something.

The time came near, the girls were decorating the church,
with cold fingers binding holly and fir and yew about the
pillars, till a new spirit was in the church, the stone broke
out into dark, rich leaf, the arches put forth their buds, and
cold flowers rose to blossom in the dim, mystic atmosphere.
Ursula must weave mistletoe over the door, and over the screen,
and hang a silver dove from a sprig of yew, till dusk came down,
and the church was like a grove.

In the cow-shed the boys were blacking their faces for a
dress-rehearsal; the turkey hung dead, with opened, speckled
wings, in the dairy. The time was come to make pies, in
readiness.

The expectation grew more tense. The star was risen into the
sky, the songs, the carols were ready to hail it. The star was
the sign in the sky. Earth too should give a sign. As evening
drew on, hearts beat fast with anticipation, hands were full of
ready gifts. There were the tremulously expectant words of the
church service, the night was past and the morning was come, the
gifts were given and received, joy and peace made a flapping of
wings in each heart, there was a great burst of carols, the
Peace of the World had dawned, strife had passed away, every
hand was linked in hand, every heart was singing.

It was bitter, though, that Christmas Day, as it drew on to
evening, and night, became a sort of bank holiday, flat and
stale. The morning was so wonderful, but in the afternoon and
evening the ecstasy perished like a nipped thing, like a bud in
a false spring. Alas, that Christmas was only a domestic feast,
a feast of sweetmeats and toys! Why did not the grown-ups also
change their everyday hearts, and give way to ecstasy? Where was
the ecstasy?

How passionately the Brangwens craved for it, the ecstasy.
The father was troubled, dark-faced and disconsolate, on
Christmas night, because the passion was not there, because the
day was become as every day, and hearts were not aflame. Upon
the mother was a kind of absentness, as ever, as if she were
exiled for all her life. Where was the fiery heart of joy, now
the coming was fulfilled; where was the star, the Magi's
transport, the thrill of new being that shook the earth?

Still it was there, even if it were faint and inadequate. The
cycle of creation still wheeled in the Church year. After
Christmas, the ecstasy slowly sank and changed. Sunday followed
Sunday, trailing a fine movement, a finely developed
transformation over the heart of the family. The heart that was
big with joy, that had seen the star and had followed to the
inner walls of the Nativity, that there had swooned in the great
light, must now feel the light slowly withdrawing, a shadow
falling, darkening. The chill crept in, silence came over the
earth, and then all was darkness. The veil of the temple was
rent, each heart gave up the ghost, and sank dead.

They moved quietly, a little wanness on the lips of the
children, at Good Friday, feeling the shadow upon their hearts.
Then, pale with a deathly scent, came the lilies of
resurrection, that shone coldly till the Comforter was
given.

But why the memory of the wounds and the death? Surely Christ
rose with healed hands and feet, sound and strong and glad?
Surely the passage of the cross and the tomb was forgotten? But
no—always the memory of the wounds, always the smell of
grave-clothes? A small thing was Resurrection, compared with the
Cross and the death, in this cycle.

So the children lived the year of christianity, the epic of
the soul of mankind. Year by year the inner, unknown drama went
on in them, their hearts were born and came to fulness, suffered
on the cross, gave up the ghost, and rose again to unnumbered
days, untired, having at least this rhythm of eternity in a
ragged, inconsequential life.

But it was becoming a mechanical action now, this drama:
birth at Christmas for death at Good Friday. On Easter Sunday
the life-drama was as good as finished. For the Resurrection was
shadowy and overcome by the shadow of death, the Ascension was
scarce noticed, a mere confirmation of death.

What was the hope and the fulfilment? Nay, was it all only a
useless after-death, a wan, bodiless after-death? Alas, and alas
for the passion of the human heart, that must die so long before
the body was dead.

For from the grave, after the passion and the trial of
anguish, the body rose torn and chill and colourless. Did not
Christ say, "Mary!" and when she turned with outstretched hands
to him, did he not hasten to add, "Touch me not; for I am not
yet ascended to my father."

Then how could the hands rejoice, or the heart be glad,
seeing themselves repulsed. Alas, for the resurrection of the
dead body! Alas, for the wavering, glimmering appearance of the
risen Christ. Alas, for the Ascension into heaven, which is a
shadow within death, a complete passing away.

Alas, that so soon the drama is over; that life is ended at
thirty-three; that the half of the year of the soul is cold and
historiless! Alas, that a risen Christ has no place with us!
Alas, that the memory of the passion of Sorrow and Death and the
Grave holds triumph over the pale fact of Resurrection!

But why? Why shall I not rise with my body whole and perfect,
shining with strong life? Why, when Mary says: Rabboni, shall I
not take her in my arms and kiss her and hold her to my breast?
Why is the risen body deadly, and abhorrent with wounds?

The Resurrection is to life, not to death. Shall I not see
those who have risen again walk here among men perfect in body
and spirit, whole and glad in the flesh, living in the flesh,
loving in the flesh, begetting children in the flesh, arrived at
last to wholeness, perfect without scar or blemish, healthy
without fear of ill health? Is this not the period of manhood
and of joy and fulfilment, after the Resurrection? Who shall be
shadowed by Death and the Cross, being risen, and who shall fear
the mystic, perfect flesh that belongs to heaven?

Can I not, then, walk this earth in gladness, being risen
from sorrow? Can I not eat with my brother happily, and with joy
kiss my beloved, after my resurrection, celebrate my marriage in
the flesh with feastings, go about my business eagerly, in the
joy of my fellows? Is heaven impatient for me, and bitter
against this earth, that I should hurry off, or that I should
linger pale and untouched? Is the flesh which was crucified
become as poison to the crowds in the street, or is it as a
strong gladness and hope to them, as the first flower blossoming
out of the earth's humus?







CHAPTER XII

FIRST LOVE

As Ursula passed from girlhood towards womanhood, gradually
the cloud of self-responsibility gathered upon her. She became
aware of herself, that she was a separate entity in the midst of
an unseparated obscurity, that she must go somewhere, she must
become something. And she was afraid, troubled. Why, oh why must
one grow up, why must one inherit this heavy, numbing
responsibility of living an undiscovered life? Out of the
nothingness and the undifferentiated mass, to make something of
herself! But what? In the obscurity and pathlessness to take a
direction! But whither? How take even one step? And yet, how
stand still? This was torment indeed, to inherit the
responsibility of one's own life.

The religion which had been another world for her, a glorious
sort of play-world, where she lived, climbing the tree with the
short-statured man, walking shakily on the sea like the
disciple, breaking the bread into five thousand portions, like
the Lord, giving a great picnic to five thousand people, now
fell away from reality, and became a tale, a myth, an illusion,
which, however much one might assert it to be true an historical
fact, one knew was not true—at least, for this
present—day life of ours. There could, within the limits
of this life we know, be no Feeding of the Five Thousand. And
the girl had come to the point where she held that that which
one cannot experience in daily life is not true for oneself.

So, the old duality of life, wherein there had been a weekday
world of people and trains and duties and reports, and besides
that a Sunday world of absolute truth and living mystery, of
walking upon the waters and being blinded by the face of the
Lord, of following the pillar of cloud across the desert and
watching the bush that crackled yet did not burn away, this old,
unquestioned duality suddenly was found to be broken apart. The
weekday world had triumphed over the Sunday world. The Sunday
world was not real, or at least, not actual. And one lived by
action.

Only the weekday world mattered. She herself, Ursula
Brangwen, must know how to take the weekday life. Her body must
be a weekday body, held in the world's estimate. Her soul must
have a weekday value, known according to the world's
knowledge.

Well, then, there was a weekday life to live, of action and
deeds. And so there was a necessity to choose one's action and
one's deeds. One was responsible to the world for what one
did.

Nay, one was more than responsible to the world. One was
responsible to oneself. There was some puzzling, tormenting
residue of the Sunday world within her, some persistent Sunday
self, which insisted upon a relationship with the now shed-away
vision world. How could one keep up a relationship with that
which one denied? Her task was now to learn the week-day
life.

How to act, that was the question? Whither to go, how to
become oneself? One was not oneself, one was merely a
half-stated question. How to become oneself, how to know the
question and the answer of oneself, when one was merely an
unfixed something—nothing, blowing about like the winds of
heaven, undefined, unstated.

She turned to the visions, which had spoken far-off words
that ran along the blood like ripples of an unseen wind, she
heard the words again, she denied the vision, for she must be a
weekday person, to whom visions were not true, and she demanded
only the weekday meaning of the words.

There were words spoken by the vision: and words must
have a weekday meaning, since words were weekday stuff. Let them
speak now: let them bespeak themselves in weekday terms. The
vision should translate itself into weekday terms.

"Sell all thou hast, and give to the poor," she heard on
Sunday morning. That was plain enough, plain enough for Monday
morning too. As she went down the hill to the station, going to
school, she took the saying with her.

"Sell all thou hast, and give to the poor."

Did she want to do that? Did she want to sell her
pearl-backed brush and mirror, her silver candlestick, her
pendant, her lovely little necklace, and go dressed in drab like
the Wherrys: the unlovely uncombed Wherrys, who were the "poor"
to her? She did not.

She walked this Monday morning on the verge of misery. For
she did want to do what was right. And she didn't want to do
what the gospels said. She didn't want to be poor—really
poor. The thought was a horror to her: to live like the Wherrys,
so ugly, to be at the mercy of everybody.

"Sell that thou hast, and give to the poor."

One could not do it in real life. How dreary and hopeless it
made her!

Nor could one turn the other cheek. Theresa slapped Ursula on
the face. Ursula, in a mood of Christian humility, silently
presented the other side of her face. Which Theresa, in
exasperation at the challenge, also hit. Whereupon Ursula, with
boiling heart, went meekly away.

But anger, and deep, writhing shame tortured her, so she was
not easy till she had again quarrelled with Theresa and had
almost shaken her sister's head off.

"That'll teach you," she said, grimly.

And she went away, unchristian but clean.

There was something unclean and degrading about this humble
side of Christianity. Ursula suddenly revolted to the other
extreme.

"I hate the Wherrys, and I wish they were dead. Why does my
father leave us in the lurch like this, making us be poor and
insignificant? Why is he not more? If we had a father as he
ought to be, he would be Earl William Brangwen, and I should be
the Lady Ursula? What right have I to be poor? crawling
along the lane like vermin? If I had my rights I should be
seated on horseback in a green riding-habit, and my groom would
be behind me. And I should stop at the gates of the cottages,
and enquire of the cottage woman who came out with a child in
her arms, how did her husband, who had hurt his foot. And I
would pat the flaxen head of the child, stooping from my horse,
and I would give her a shilling from my purse, and order
nourishing food to be sent from the hall to the cottage."

So she rode in her pride. And sometimes, she dashed into
flames to rescue a forgotten child; or she dived into the canal
locks and supported a boy who was seized with cramp; or she
swept up a toddling infant from the feet of a runaway horse:
always imaginatively, of course.

But in the end there returned the poignant yearning from the
Sunday world. As she went down in the morning from Cossethay and
saw Ilkeston smoking blue and tender upon its hill, then her
heart surged with far-off words:

"Oh, Jerusalem, Jerusalem—how often would I have
gathered thy children together as a hen gathereth her chickens
under her wings, and ye would not—"

The passion rose in her for Christ, for the gathering under
the wings of security and warmth. But how did it apply to the
weekday world? What could it mean, but that Christ should clasp
her to his breast, as a mother clasps her child? And oh, for
Christ, for him who could hold her to his breast and lose her
there. Oh, for the breast of man, where she should have refuge
and bliss for ever! All her senses quivered with passionate
yearning.

Vaguely she knew that Christ meant something else: that in
the vision-world He spoke of Jerusalem, something that did not
exist in the everyday world. It was not houses and factories He
would hold in His bosom: nor householders nor factory-workers
nor poor people: but something that had no part in the weekday
world, nor seen nor touched with weekday hands and eyes.

Yet she must have it in weekday terms—she must.
For all her life was a weekday life, now, this was the whole. So
he must gather her body to his breast, that was strong with a
broad bone, and which sounded with the beating of the heart, and
which was warm with the life of which she partook, the life of
the running blood.

So she craved for the breast of the Son of Man, to lie there.
And she was ashamed in her soul, ashamed. For whereas Christ
spoke for the Vision to answer, she answered from the weekday
fact. It was a betrayal, a transference of meaning, from the
vision world, to the matter-of-fact world. So she was ashamed of
her religious ecstasy, and dreaded lest any one should see
it.

Early in the year, when the lambs came, and shelters were
built of straw, and on her uncle's farm the men sat at night
with a lantern and a dog, then again there swept over her this
passionate confusion between the vision world and the weekday
world. Again she felt Jesus in the countryside. Ah, he would
lift up the lambs in his arms! Ah, and she was the lamb. Again,
in the morning, going down the lane, she heard the ewe call, and
the lambs came running, shaking and twinkling with new-born
bliss. And she saw them stooping, nuzzling, groping to the
udder, to find the teats, whilst the mother turned her head
gravely and sniffed her own. And they were sucking, vibrating
with bliss on their little, long legs, their throats stretched
up, their new bodies quivering to the stream of blood-warm,
loving milk.

Oh, and the bliss, the bliss! She could scarcely tear herself
away to go to school. The little noses nuzzling at the udder,
the little bodies so glad and sure, the little black legs,
crooked, the mother standing still, yielding herself to their
quivering attraction—then the mother walked calmly
away.

Jesus—the vision world—the everyday
world—all mixed inextricably in a confusion of pain and
bliss. It was almost agony, the confusion, the inextricability.
Jesus, the vision, speaking to her, who was non-visionary! And
she would take his words of the spirit and make them to pander
to her own carnality.

This was a shame to her. The confusing of the spirit world
with the material world, in her own soul, degraded her. She
answered the call of the spirit in terms of immediate, everyday
desire.

"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy-laden, and I
will give you rest."

It was the temporal answer she gave. She leapt with sensuous
yearning to respond to Christ. If she could go to him really,
and lay her head on his breast, to have comfort, to be made much
of, caressed like a child!

All the time she walked in a confused heat of religious
yearning. She wanted Jesus to love her deliciously, to take her
sensuous offering, to give her sensuous response. For weeks she
went in a muse of enjoyment.

And all the time she knew underneath that she was playing
false, accepting the passion of Jesus for her own physical
satisfaction. But she was in such a daze, such a tangle. How
could she get free?

She hated herself, she wanted to trample on herself, destroy
herself. How could one become free? She hated religion, because
it lent itself to her confusion. She abused everything. She
wanted to become hard, indifferent, brutally callous to
everything but just the immediate need, the immediate
satisfaction. To have a yearning towards Jesus, only that she
might use him to pander to her own soft sensation, use him as a
means of reacting upon herself, maddened her in the end. There
was then no Jesus, no sentimentality. With all the bitter hatred
of helplessness she hated sentimentality.

At this period came the young Skrebensky. She was nearly
sixteen years old, a slim, smouldering girl, deeply reticent,
yet lapsing into unreserved expansiveness now and then, when she
seemed to give away her whole soul, but when in fact she only
made another counterfeit of her soul for outward presentation.
She was sensitive in the extreme, always tortured, always
affecting a callous indifference to screen herself.

She was at this time a nuisance on the face of the earth,
with her spasmodic passion and her slumberous torment. She
seemed to go with all her soul in her hands, yearning, to the
other person. Yet all the while, deep at the bottom of her was a
childish antagonism of distrust. She thought she loved everybody
and believed in everybody. But because she could not love
herself nor believe in herself, she mistrusted everybody with
the mistrust of a serpent or a captured bird. Her starts of
revulsion and hatred were more inevitable than her impulses of
love.

So she wrestled through her dark days of confusion, soulless,
uncreated, unformed.

One evening, as she was studying in the parlour, her head
buried in her hands, she heard new voices in the kitchen
speaking. At once, from its apathy, her excitable spirit started
and strained to listen. It seemed to crouch, to lurk under
cover, tense, glaring forth unwilling to be seen.

There were two strange men's voices, one soft and candid,
veiled with soft candour, the other veiled with easy mobility,
running quickly. Ursula sat quite tense, shocked out of her
studies, lost. She listened all the time to the sound of the
voices, scarcely heeding the words.

The first speaker was her Uncle Tom. She knew the naive
candour covering the girding and savage misery of his soul. Who
was the other speaker? Whose voice ran on so easy, yet with an
inflamed pulse? It seemed to hasten and urge her forward, that
other voice.

"I remember you," the young man's voice was saying. "I
remember you from the first time I saw you, because of your dark
eyes and fair face."

Mrs. Brangwen laughed, shy and pleased.

"You were a curly-headed little lad," she said.

"Was I? Yes, I know. They were very proud of my curls."

And a laugh ran to silence.

"You were a very well-mannered lad, I remember," said her
father.

"Oh! did I ask you to stay the night? I always used to ask
people to stay the night. I believe it was rather trying for my
mother."

There was a general laugh. Ursula rose. She had to go.

At the click of the latch everybody looked round. The girl
hung in the doorway, seized with a moment's fierce confusion.
She was going to be good-looking. Now she had an attractive
gawkiness, as she hung a moment, not knowing how to carry her
shoulders. Her dark hair was tied behind, her yellow-brown eyes
shone without direction. Behind her, in the parlour, was the
soft light of a lamp upon open books.

A superficial readiness took her to her Uncle Tom, who kissed
her, greeting her with warmth, making a show of intimate
possession of her, and at the same time leaving evident his own
complete detachment.

But she wanted to turn to the stranger. He was standing back
a little, waiting. He was a young man with very clear greyish
eyes that waited until they were called upon, before they took
expression.

Something in his self-possessed waiting moved her, and she
broke into a confused, rather beautiful laugh as she gave him
her hand, catching her breath like an excited child. His hand
closed over hers very close, very near, he bowed, and his eyes
were watching her with some attention. She felt proud—her
spirit leapt to life.

"You don't know Mr. Skrebensky, Ursula," came her Uncle Tom's
intimate voice. She lifted her face with an impulsive flash to
the stranger, as if to declare a knowledge, laughing her
palpitating, excited laugh.

His eyes became confused with roused lights, his detached
attention changed to a readiness for her. He was a young man of
twenty-one, with a slender figure and soft brown hair brushed up
on the German fashion straight from his brow.

"Are you staying long?" she asked.

"I've got a month's leave," he said, glancing at Tom
Brangwen. "But I've various places I must go to—put in
some time here and there."

He brought her a strong sense of the outer world. It was as
if she were set on a hill and could feel vaguely the whole world
lying spread before her.

"What have you a month's leave from?" she asked.

"I'm in the Engineers—in the Army."

"Oh!" she exclaimed, glad.

"We're taking you away from your studies," said her
Uncle Tom.

"Oh, no," she replied quickly.

Skrebensky laughed, young and inflammable.

"She won't wait to be taken away," said her father. But that
seemed clumsy. She wished he would leave her to say her own
things.

"Don't you like study?" asked Skrebensky, turning to her,
putting the question from his own case.

"I like some things," said Ursula. "I like Latin and
French—and grammar."

He watched her, and all his being seemed attentive to her,
then he shook his head.

"I don't," he said. "They say all the brains of the army are
in the Engineers. I think that's why I joined them—to get
the credit of other people's brains."

He said this quizzically and with chagrin. And she became
alert to him. It interested her. Whether he had brains or not,
he was interesting. His directness attracted her, his
independent motion. She was aware of the movement of his life
over against hers.

"I don't think brains matter," she said.

"What does matter then?" came her Uncle Tom's intimate,
caressing, half-jeering voice.

She turned to him.

"It matters whether people have courage or not," she
said.

"Courage for what?" asked her uncle.

"For everything."

Tom Brangwen gave a sharp little laugh. The mother and father
sat silent, with listening faces. Skrebensky waited. She was
speaking for him.

"Everything's nothing," laughed her uncle.

She disliked him at that moment.

"She doesn't practice what she preaches," said her father,
stirring in his chair and crossing one leg over the other. "She
has courage for mighty little."

But she would not answer. Skrebensky sat still, waiting. His
face was irregular, almost ugly, flattish, with a rather thick
nose. But his eyes were pellucid, strangely clear, his brown
hair was soft and thick as silk, he had a slight moustache. His
skin was fine, his figure slight, beautiful. Beside him, her
Uncle Tom looked full-blown, her father seemed uncouth. Yet he
reminded her of her father, only he was finer, and he seemed to
be shining. And his face was almost ugly.

He seemed simply acquiescent in the fact of his own being, as
if he were beyond any change or question. He was himself. There
was a sense of fatality about him that fascinated her. He made
no effort to prove himself to other people. Let it be accepted
for what it was, his own being. In its isolation it made no
excuse or explanation for itself.

So he seemed perfectly, even fatally established, he did not
asked to be rendered before he could exist, before he could have
relationship with another person.

This attracted Ursula very much. She was so used to unsure
people who took on a new being with every new influence. Her
Uncle Tom was always more or less what the other person would
have him. In consequence, one never knew the real Uncle Tom,
only a fluid, unsatisfactory flux with a more or less consistent
appearance.

But, let Skrebensky do what he would, betray himself
entirely, he betrayed himself always upon his own
responsibility. He permitted no question about himself. He was
irrevocable in his isolation.

So Ursula thought him wonderful, he was so finely
constituted, and so distinct, self-contained, self-supporting.
This, she said to herself, was a gentleman, he had a nature like
fate, the nature of an aristocrat.

She laid hold of him at once for her dreams. Here was one
such as those Sons of God who saw the daughters of men, that
they were fair. He was no son of Adam. Adam was servile. Had not
Adam been driven cringing out of his native place, had not the
human race been a beggar ever since, seeking its own being? But
Anton Skrebensky could not beg. He was in possession of himself,
of that, and no more. Other people could not really give him
anything nor take anything from him. His soul stood alone.

She knew that her mother and father acknowledged him. The
house was changed. There had been a visit paid to the house.
Once three angels stood in Abraham's doorway, and greeted him,
and stayed and ate with him, leaving his household enriched for
ever when they went.

The next day she went down to the Marsh according to
invitation. The two men were not come home. Then, looking
through the window, she saw the dogcart drive up, and Skrebensky
leapt down. She saw him draw himself together, jump, laugh to
her uncle, who was driving, then come towards her to the house.
He was so spontaneous and revealed in his movements. He was
isolated within his own clear, fine atmosphere, and as still as
if fated.

His resting in his own fate gave him an appearance of
indolence, almost of languor: he made no exuberant movement.
When he sat down, he seemed to go loose, languid.

"We are a little late," he said.

"Where have you been?"

"We went to Derby to see a friend of my father's."

"Who?"

It was an adventure to her to put direct questions and get
plain answers. She knew she might do it with this man.

"Why, he is a clergyman too—he is my guardian—one
of them."

Ursula knew that Skrebensky was an orphan.

"Where is really your home now?" she asked.

"My home?—I wonder. I am very fond of my
colonel—Colonel Hepburn: then there are my aunts: but my
real home, I suppose, is the army."

"Do you like being on your own?"

His clear, greenish-grey eyes rested on her a moment, and, as
he considered, he did not see her.

"I suppose so," he said. "You see my father—well, he
was never acclimatized here. He wanted—I don't know what
he wanted—but it was a strain. And my mother—I
always knew she was too good to me. I could feel her being too
good to me—my mother! Then I went away to school so early.
And I must say, the outside world was always more naturally a
home to me than the vicarage—I don't know why."

"Do you feel like a bird blown out of its own latitude?" she
asked, using a phrase she had met.

"No, no. I find everything very much as I like it."

He seemed more and more to give her a sense of the vast
world, a sense of distances and large masses of humanity. It
drew her as a scent draws a bee from afar. But also it hurt
her.

It was summer, and she wore cotton frocks. The third time he
saw her she had on a dress with fine blue-and-white stripes,
with a white collar, and a large white hat. It suited her
golden, warm complexion.

"I like you best in that dress," he said, standing with his
head slightly on one side, and appreciating her in a perceiving,
critical fashion.

She was thrilled with a new life. For the first time she was
in love with a vision of herself: she saw as it were a fine
little reflection of herself in his eyes. And she must act up to
this: she must be beautiful. Her thoughts turned swiftly to
clothes, her passion was to make a beautiful appearance. Her
family looked on in amazement at the sudden transformation of
Ursula. She became elegant, really elegant, in figured cotton
frocks she made for herself, and hats she bent to her fancy. An
inspiration was upon her.

He sat with a sort of languor in her grandmother's rocking
chair, rocking slowly, languidly, backward and forward, as
Ursula talked to him.

"You are not poor, are you?" she said.

"Poor in money? I have about a hundred and fifty a year of my
own—so I am poor or rich, as you like. I am poor enough,
in fact."

"But you will earn money?"

"I shall have my pay—I have my pay now. I've got my
commission. That is another hundred and fifty."

"You will have more, though?"

"I shan't have more than 200 pounds a year for ten years to
come. I shall always be poor, if I have to live on my pay."

"Do you mind it?"

"Being poor? Not now—not very much. I may later.
People—the officers, are good to me. Colonel Hepburn has a
sort of fancy for me—he is a rich man, I suppose."

A chill went over Ursula. Was he going to sell himself in
some way?

"Is Colonel Hepburn married?"

"Yes—with two daughters."

But she was too proud at once to care whether Colonel
Hepburn's daughter wanted to marry him or not.

There came a silence. Gudrun entered, and Skrebensky still
rocked languidly on the chair.

"You look very lazy," said Gudrun.

"I am lazy," he answered.

"You look really floppy," she said.

"I am floppy," he answered.

"Can't you stop?" asked Gudrun.

"No—it's the perpetuum mobile."

"You look as if you hadn't a bone in your body."

"That's how I like to feel."

"I don't admire your taste."

"That's my misfortune."

And he rocked on.

Gudrun seated herself behind him, and as he rocked back, she
caught his hair between her finger and thumb, so that it tugged
him as he swung forward again. He took no notice. There was only
the sound of the rockers on the floor. In silence, like a crab,
Gudrun caught a strand of his hair each time he rocked back.
Ursula flushed, and sat in some pain. She saw the irritation
gathering on his brow.

At last he leapt up, suddenly, like a steel spring going off,
and stood on the hearthrug.

"Damn it, why can't I rock?" he asked petulantly,
fiercely.

Ursula loved him for his sudden, steel-like start out of the
languor. He stood on the hearthrug fuming, his eyes gleaming
with anger.

Gudrun laughed in her deep, mellow fashion.

"Men don't rock themselves," she said.

"Girls don't pull men's hair," he said.

Gudrun laughed again.

Ursula sat amused, but waiting. And he knew Ursula was
waiting for him. It roused his blood. He had to go to her, to
follow her call.

Once he drove her to Derby in the dog-cart. He belonged to
the horsey set of the sappers. They had lunch in an inn, and
went through the market, pleased with everything. He bought her
a copy of Wuthering Heights from a bookstall. Then they found a
little fair in progress and she said:

"My father used to take me in the swingboats."

"Did you like it?" he asked.

"Oh, it was fine," she said.

"Would you like to go now?"

"Love it," she said, though she was afraid. But the prospect
of doing an unusual, exciting thing was attractive to her.

He went straight to the stand, paid the money, and helped her
to mount. He seemed to ignore everything but just what he was
doing. Other people were mere objects of indifference to him.
She would have liked to hang back, but she was more ashamed to
retreat from him than to expose herself to the crowd or to dare
the swingboat. His eyes laughed, and standing before her with
his sharp, sudden figure, he set the boat swinging. She was not
afraid, she was thrilled. His colour flushed, his eyes shone
with a roused light, and she looked up at him, her face like a
flower in the sun, so bright and attractive. So they rushed
through the bright air, up at the sky as if flung from a
catapult, then falling terribly back. She loved it. The motion
seemed to fan their blood to fire, they laughed, feeling the
flames.

After the swingboats, they went on the roundabouts to calm
down, he twisting astride on his jerky wooden steed towards her,
and always seeming at his ease, enjoying himself. A zest of
antagonism to the convention made him fully himself. As they sat
on the whirling carousal, with the music grinding out, she was
aware of the people on the earth outside, and it seemed that he
and she were riding carelessly over the faces of the crowd,
riding for ever buoyantly, proudly, gallantly over the upturned
faces of the crowd, moving on a high level, spurning the common
mass.

When they must descend and walk away, she was unhappy,
feeling like a giant suddenly cut down to ordinary level, at the
mercy of the mob.

They left the fair, to return for the dog-cart. Passing the
large church, Ursula must look in. But the whole interior was
filled with scaffolding, fallen stone and rubbish were heaped on
the floor, bits of plaster crunched underfoot, and the place
re-echoed to the calling of secular voices and to blows of the
hammer.

She had come to plunge in the utter gloom and peace for a
moment, bringing all her yearning, that had returned on her
uncontrolled after the reckless riding over the face of the
crowd, in the fair. After pride, she wanted comfort, solace, for
pride and scorn seemed to hurt her most of all.

And she found the immemorial gloom full of bits of falling
plaster, and dust of floating plaster, smelling of old lime,
having scaffolding and rubbish heaped about, dust cloths over
the altar.

"Let us sit down a minute," she said.

They sat unnoticed in the back pew, in the gloom, and she
watched the dirty, disorderly work of bricklayers and
plasterers. Workmen in heavy boots walking grinding down the
aisles, calling out in a vulgar accent:

"Hi, mate, has them corner mouldin's come?"

There were shouts of coarse answer from the roof of the
church. The place echoed desolate.

Skrebensky sat close to her. Everything seemed wonderful, if
dreadful to her, the world tumbling into ruins, and she and he
clambering unhurt, lawless over the face of it all. He sat close
to her, touching her, and she was aware of his influence upon
her. But she was glad. It excited her to feel the press of him
upon her, as if his being were urging her to something.

As they drove home, he sat near to her. And when he swayed to
the cart, he swayed in a voluptuous, lingering way, against her,
lingering as he swung away to recover balance. Without speaking,
he took her hand across, under the wrap, and with his unseeing
face lifted to the road, his soul intent, he began with his one
hand to unfasten the buttons of her glove, to push back her
glove from her hand, carefully laying bare her hand. And the
close-working, instinctive subtlety of his fingers upon her hand
sent the young girl mad with voluptuous delight. His hand was so
wonderful, intent as a living creature skilfully pushing and
manipulating in the dark underworld, removing her glove and
laying bare her palm, her fingers. Then his hand closed over
hers, so firm, so close, as if the flesh knitted to one thing
his hand and hers. Meanwhile his face watched the road and the
ears of the horse, he drove with steady attention through the
villages, and she sat beside him, rapt, glowing, blinded with a
new light. Neither of them spoke. In outward attention they were
entirely separate. But between them was the compact of his flesh
with hers, in the hand-clasp.

Then, in a strange voice, affecting nonchalance and
superficiality he said to her:

"Sitting in the church there reminded me of Ingram."

"Who is Ingram?" she asked.

She also affected calm superficiality. But she knew that
something forbidden was coming.

"He is one of the other men with me down at Chatham—a
subaltern—but a year older than I am."

"And why did the church remind you of him?"

"Well, he had a girl in Rochester, and they always sat in a
particular corner in the cathedral for their love-making."

"How nice!" she cried, impulsively.

They misunderstood each other.

"It had its disadvantages though. The verger made a row about
it."

"What a shame! Why shouldn't they sit in a cathedral?"

"I suppose they all think it a profanity—except you and
Ingram and the girl."

"I don't think it a profanity—I think it's right, to
make love in a cathedral."

She said this almost defiantly, in despite of her own
soul.

He was silent.

"And was she nice?"

"Who? Emily? Yes, she was rather nice. She was a milliner,
and she wouldn't be seen in the streets with Ingram. It was
rather sad, really, because the verger spied on them, and got to
know their names and then made a regular row. It was a common
tale afterwards."

"What did she do?"

"She went to London, into a big shop. Ingram still goes up to
see her."

"Does he love her?"

"It's a year and a half he's been with her now."

"What was she like?"

"Emily? Little, shy-violet sort of girl with nice
eyebrows."

Ursula meditated this. It seemed like real romance of the
outer world.

"Do all men have lovers?" she asked, amazed at her own
temerity. But her hand was still fastened with his, and his face
still had the same unchanging fixity of outward calm.

"They're always mentioning some amazing fine woman or other,
and getting drunk to talk about her. Most of them dash up to
London the moment they are free."

"What for?"

"To some amazing fine woman or other."

"What sort of woman?"

"Various. Her name changes pretty frequently, as a rule. One
of the fellows is a perfect maniac. He keeps a suit-case always
ready, and the instant he is at liberty, he bolts with it to the
station, and changes in the train. No matter who is in the
carriage, off he whips his tunic, and performs at least the top
half of his toilet."

Ursula quivered and wondered.

"Why is he in such a hurry?" she asked.

Her throat was becoming hard and difficult.

"He's got a woman in his mind, I suppose."

She was chilled, hardened. And yet this world of passions and
lawlessness was fascinating to her. It seemed to her a splendid
recklessness. Her adventure in life was beginning. It seemed
very splendid.

That evening she stayed at the Marsh till after dark, and
Skrebensky escorted her home. For she could not go away from
him. And she was waiting, waiting for something more.

In the warm of the early night, with the shadows new about
them, she felt in another, harder, more beautiful, less personal
world. Now a new state should come to pass.

He walked near to her, and with the same, silent, intent
approach put his arm round her waist, and softly, very softly,
drew her to him, till his arm was hard and pressed in upon her;
she seemed to be carried along, floating, her feet scarce
touching the ground, borne upon the firm, moving surface of his
body, upon whose side she seemed to lie, in a delicious swoon of
motion. And whilst she swooned, his face bent nearer to her, her
head was leaned on his shoulder, she felt his warm breath on her
face. Then softly, oh softly, so softly that she seemed to faint
away, his lips touched her cheek, and she drifted through
strands of heat and darkness.

Still she waited, in her swoon and her drifting, waited, like
the Sleeping Beauty in the story. She waited, and again his face
was bent to hers, his lips came warm to her face, their
footsteps lingered and ceased, they stood still under the trees,
whilst his lips waited on her face, waited like a butterfly that
does not move on a flower. She pressed her breast a little
nearer to him, he moved, put both his arms round her, and drew
her close.

And then, in the darkness, he bent to her mouth, softly, and
touched her mouth with his mouth. She was afraid, she lay still
on his arm, feeling his lips on her lips. She kept still,
helpless. Then his mouth drew near, pressing open her mouth, a
hot, drenching surge rose within her, she opened her lips to
him, in pained, poignant eddies she drew him nearer, she let him
come farther, his lips came and surging, surging, soft, oh soft,
yet oh, like the powerful surge of water, irresistible, till
with a little blind cry, she broke away.

She heard him breathing heavily, strangely, beside her. A
terrible and magnificent sense of his strangeness possessed her.
But she shrank a little now, within herself. Hesitating, they
continued to walk on, quivering like shadows under the ash trees
of the hill, where her grandfather had walked with his daffodils
to make his proposal, and where her mother had gone with her
young husband, walking close upon him as Ursula was now walking
upon Skrebensky.

Ursula was aware of the dark limbs of the trees stretching
overhead, clothed with leaves, and of fine ash leaves tressing
the summer night.

They walked with their bodies moving in complex unity, close
together. He held her hand, and they went the long way round by
the road, to be farther. Always she felt as if she were
supported off her feet, as if her feet were light as little
breezes in motion.

He would kiss her again—but not again that night with
the same deep—reaching kiss. She was aware now, aware of
what a kiss might be. And so, it was more difficult to come to
him.

She went to bed feeling all warm with electric warmth, as if
the gush of dawn were within her, upholding her. And she slept
deeply, sweetly, oh, so sweetly. In the morning she felt sound
as an ear of wheat, fragrant and firm and full.

They continued to be lovers, in the first wondering state of
unrealization. Ursula told nobody; she was entirely lost in her
own world.

Yet some strange affectation made her seek for a spurious
confidence. She had at school a quiet, meditative,
serious-souled friend called Ethel, and to Ethel must Ursula
confide the story. Ethel listened absorbedly, with bowed,
unbetraying head, whilst Ursula told her secret. Oh, it was so
lovely, his gentle, delicate way of making love! Ursula talked
like a practiced lover.

"Do you think," asked Ursula, "it is wicked to let a man kiss
you—real kisses, not flirting?"

"I should think," said Ethel, "it depends."

"He kissed me under the ash trees on Cossethay hill—do
you think it was wrong?"

"When?"

"On Thursday night when he was seeing me home—but real
kisses—real—. He is an officer in the army."

"What time was it?" asked the deliberate Ethel.

"I don't know—about half-past nine."

There was a pause.

"I think it's wrong," said Ethel, lifting her head with
impatience. "You don't know him."

She spoke with some contempt.

"Yes, I do. He is half a Pole, and a Baron too. In England he
is equivalent to a Lord. My grandmother was his father's
friend."

But the two friends were hostile. It was as if Ursula
wanted to divide herself from her acquaintances, in
asserting her connection with Anton, as she now called him.

He came a good deal to Cossethay, because her mother was fond
of him. Anna Brangwen became something of a grande dame
with Skrebensky, very calm, taking things for granted.

"Aren't the children in bed?" cried Ursula petulantly, as she
came in with the young man.

"They will be in bed in half an hour," said the mother.

"There is no peace," cried Ursula.

"The children must live, Ursula," said her mother.

And Skrebensky was against Ursula in this. Why should she be
so insistent?

But then, as Ursula knew, he did not have the perpetual
tyranny of young children about him. He treated her mother with
great courtliness, to which Mrs. Brangwen returned an easy,
friendly hospitality. Something pleased the girl in her mother's
calm assumption of state. It seemed impossible to abate Mrs.
Brangwen's position. She could never be beneath anyone in public
relation. Between Brangwen and Skrebensky there was an
unbridgeable silence. Sometimes the two men made a slight
conversation, but there was no interchange. Ursula rejoiced to
see her father retreating into himself against the young
man.

She was proud of Skrebensky in the house. His lounging,
languorous indifference irritated her and yet cast a spell over
her. She knew it was the outcome of a spirit of
laissez-aller combined with profound young vitality. Yet
it irritated her deeply.

Notwithstanding, she was proud of him as he lounged in his
lambent fashion in her home, he was so attentive and courteous
to her mother and to herself all the time. It was wonderful to
have his awareness in the room. She felt rich and augmented by
it, as if she were the positive attraction and he the flow
towards her. And his courtesy and his agreement might be all her
mother's, but the lambent flicker of his body was for herself.
She held it.

She must ever prove her power.

"I meant to show you my little wood-carving," she said.

"I'm sure it's not worth showing, that," said her father.

"Would you like to see it?" she asked, leaning towards the
door.

And his body had risen from the chair, though his face seemed
to want to agree with her parents.

"It is in the shed," she said.

And he followed her out of the door, whatever his feelings
might be.

In the shed they played at kisses, really played at kisses.
It was a delicious, exciting game. She turned to him, her face
all laughing, like a challenge. And he accepted the challenge at
once. He twined his hand full of her hair, and gently, with his
hand wrapped round with hair behind her head, gradually brought
her face nearer to his, whilst she laughed breathless with
challenge, and his eyes gleamed with answer, with enjoyment of
the game. And he kissed her, asserting his will over her, and
she kissed him back, asserting her deliberate enjoyment of him.
Daring and reckless and dangerous they knew it was, their game,
each playing with fire, not with love. A sort of defiance of all
the world possessed her in it—she would kiss him just
because she wanted to. And a dare-devilry in him, like a
cynicism, a cut at everything he pretended to serve, retaliated
in him.

She was very beautiful then, so wide opened, so radiant, so
palpitating, exquisitely vulnerable and poignantly, wrongly,
throwing herself to risk. It roused a sort of madness in him.
Like a flower shaking and wide-opened in the sun, she tempted
him and challenged him, and he accepted the challenge, something
went fixed in him. And under all her laughing, poignant
recklessness was the quiver of tears. That almost sent him mad,
mad with desire, with pain, whose only issue was through
possession of her body.

So, shaken, afraid, they went back to her parents in the
kitchen, and dissimulated. But something was roused in both of
them that they could not now allay. It intensified and
heightened their senses, they were more vivid, and powerful in
their being. But under it all was a poignant sense of
transience. It was a magnificent self-assertion on the part of
both of them, he asserted himself before her, he felt himself
infinitely male and infinitely irresistible, she asserted
herself before him, she knew herself infinitely desirable, and
hence infinitely strong. And after all, what could either of
them get from such a passion but a sense of his or of her own
maximum self, in contradistinction to all the rest of life?
Wherein was something finite and sad, for the human soul at its
maximum wants a sense of the infinite.

Nevertheless, it was begun now, this passion, and must go on,
the passion of Ursula to know her own maximum self, limited and
so defined against him. She could limit and define herself
against him, the male, she could be her maximum self, female, oh
female, triumphant for one moment in exquisite assertion against
the male, in supreme contradistinction to the male.

The next afternoon, when he came, prowling, she went with him
across to the church. Her father was gradually gathering in
anger against him, her mother was hardening in anger against
her. But the parents were naturally tolerant in action.

They went together across the churchyard, Ursula and
Skrebensky, and ran to hiding in the church. It was dimmer in
there than the sunny afternoon outside, but the mellow glow
among the bowed stone was very sweet. The windows burned in ruby
and in blue, they made magnificent arras to their bower of
secret stone.

"What a perfect place for a rendezvous," he said, in a
hushed voice, glancing round.

She too glanced round the familiar interior. The dimness and
stillness chilled her. But her eyes lit up with daring. Here,
here she would assert her indomitable gorgeous female self,
here. Here she would open her female flower like a flame, in
this dimness that was more passionate than light.

They hung apart a moment, then wilfully turned to each other
for the desired contact. She put her arms round him, she cleaved
her body to his, and with her hands pressed upon his shoulders,
on his back, she seemed to feel right through him, to know his
young, tense body right through. And it was so fine, so hard,
yet so exquisitely subject and under her control. She reached
him her mouth and drank his full kiss, drank it fuller and
fuller.

And it was so good, it was very, very good. She seemed to be
filled with his kiss, filled as if she had drunk strong, glowing
sunshine. She glowed all inside, the sunshine seemed to beat
upon her heart underneath, she had drunk so beautifully.

She drew away, and looked at him radiant, exquisitely,
glowingly beautiful, and satisfied, but radiant as an illumined
cloud.

To him this was bitter, that she was so radiant and
satisfied. She laughed upon him, blind to him, so full of her
own bliss, never doubting but that he was the same as she was.
And radiant as an angel she went with him out of the church, as
if her feet were beams of light that walked on flowers for
footsteps.

He went beside her, his soul clenched, his body unsatisfied.
Was she going to make this easy triumph over him? For him, there
was now no self-bliss, only pain and confused anger.

It was high summer, and the hay-harvest was almost over. It
would be finished on Saturday. On Saturday, however, Skrebensky
was going away. He could not stay any longer.

Having decided to go he became very tender and loving to her,
kissing her gently, with such soft, sweet, insidious closeness
that they were both of them intoxicated.

The very last Friday of his stay he met her coming out of
school, and took her to tea in the town. Then he had a motor-car
to drive her home.

Her excitement at riding in a motor-car was greatest of all.
He too was very proud of this last coup. He saw Ursula kindle
and flare up to the romance of the situation. She raised her
head like a young horse snuffing with wild delight.

The car swerved round a corner, and Ursula was swung against
Skrebensky. The contact made her aware of him. With a swift,
foraging impulse she sought for his hand and clasped it in her
own, so close, so combined, as if they were two children.

The wind blew in on Ursula's face, the mud flew in a soft,
wild rush from the wheels, the country was blackish green, with
the silver of new hay here and there, and masses of trees under
a silver-gleaming sky.

Her hand tightened on his with a new consciousness, troubled.
They did not speak for some time, but sat, hand-fast, with
averted, shining faces.

And every now and then the car swung her against him. And
they waited for the motion to bring them together. Yet they
stared out of the windows, mute.

She saw the familiar country racing by. But now, it was no
familiar country, it was wonderland. There was the Hemlock Stone
standing on its grassy hill. Strange it looked on this wet,
early summer evening, remote, in a magic land. Some rooks were
flying out of the trees.

Ah, if only she and Skrebensky could get out, dismount into
this enchanted land where nobody had ever been before! Then they
would be enchanted people, they would put off the dull,
customary self. If she were wandering there, on that hill-slope
under a silvery, changing sky, in which many rooks melted like
hurrying showers of blots! If they could walk past the wetted
hay-swaths, smelling the early evening, and pass in to the wood
where the honeysuckle scent was sweet on the cold tang in the
air, and showers of drops fell when one brushed a bough, cold
and lovely on the face!

But she was here with him in the car, close to him, and the
wind was rushing on her lifted, eager face, blowing back the
hair. He turned and looked at her, at her face clean as a
chiselled thing, her hair chiselled back by the wind, her fine
nose keen and lifted.

It was agony to him, seeing her swift and clean-cut and
virgin. He wanted to kill himself, and throw his detested
carcase at her feet. His desire to turn round on himself and
rend himself was an agony to him.

Suddenly she glanced at him. He seemed to be crouching
towards her, reaching, he seemed to wince between the brows. But
instantly, seeing her lighted eyes and radiant face, his
expression changed, his old reckless laugh shone to her. She
pressed his hand in utter delight, and he abided. And suddenly
she stooped and kissed his hand, bent her head and caught it to
her mouth, in generous homage. And the blood burned in him. Yet
he remained still, he made no move.

She started. They were swinging into Cossethay. Skrebensky
was going to leave her. But it was all so magic, her cup was so
full of bright wine, her eyes could only shine.

He tapped and spoke to the man. The car swung up by the yew
trees. She gave him her hand and said good-bye, naive and brief
as a schoolgirl. And she stood watching him go, her face
shining. The fact of his driving on meant nothing to her, she
was so filled by her own bright ecstacy. She did not see him go,
for she was filled with light, which was of him. Bright with an
amazing light as she was, how could she miss him.

In her bedroom she threw her arms in the air in clear pain of
magnificence. Oh, it was her transfiguration, she was beyond
herself. She wanted to fling herself into all the hidden
brightness of the air. It was there, it was there, if she could
but meet it.

But the next day she knew he had gone. Her glory had partly
died down—but never from her memory. It was too real. Yet
it was gone by, leaving a wistfulness. A deeper yearning came
into her soul, a new reserve.

She shrank from touch and question. She was very proud, but
very new, and very sensitive. Oh, that no one should lay hands
on her!

She was happier running on by herself. Oh, it was a joy to
run along the lanes without seeing things, yet being with them.
It was such a joy to be alone with all one's riches.

The holidays came, when she was free. She spent most of her
time running on by herself, curled up in a squirrel-place in the
garden, lying in a hammock in the coppice, while the birds came
near—near—so near. Oh, in rainy weather, she flitted
to the Marsh, and lay hidden with her book in a hay-loft.

All the time, she dreamed of him, sometimes definitely, but
when she was happiest, only vaguely. He was the warm colouring
of her dreams, he was the hot blood beating within them.

When she was less happy, out of sorts, she pondered over his
appearance, his clothes, the buttons with his regimental badge,
which he had given her. Or she tried to imagine his life in
barracks. Or she conjured up a vision of herself as she appeared
in his eyes.

His birthday was in August, and she spent some pains on
making him a cake. She felt that it would not be in good taste
for her to give him a present.

Their correspondence was brief, mostly an exchange of
post-cards, not at all frequent. But with her cake she must send
him a letter.

"Dear Anton. The sunshine has come back specially for your
birthday, I think. I made the cake myself, and wish you many
happy returns of the day. Don't eat it if it is not good. Mother
hopes you will come and see us when you are near enough.



"I am



"Your Sincere Friend,



"Ursula Brangwen."

It bored her to write a letter even to him. After all,
writing words on paper had nothing to do with him and her.

The fine weather had set in, the cutting machine went on from
dawn till sunset, chattering round the fields. She heard from
Skrebensky; he too was on duty in the country, on Salisbury
Plain. He was now a second lieutenant in a Field Troop. He would
have a few days off shortly, and would come to the Marsh for the
wedding.

Fred Brangwen was going to marry a schoolmistress out of
Ilkeston as soon as corn-harvest was at an end.

The dim blue-and-gold of a hot, sweet autumn saw the close of
the corn-harvest. To Ursula, it was as if the world had opened
its softest purest flower, its chicory flower, its meadow
saffron. The sky was blue and sweet, the yellow leaves down the
lane seemed like free, wandering flowers as they chittered round
the feet, making a keen, poignant, almost unbearable music to
her heart. And the scents of autumn were like a summer madness
to her. She fled away from the little, purple-red
button-chrysanthemums like a frightened dryad, the bright yellow
little chrysanthemums smelled so strong, her feet seemed to
dither in a drunken dance.

Then her Uncle Tom appeared, always like the cynical Bacchus
in the picture. He would have a jolly wedding, a harvest supper
and a wedding feast in one: a tent in the home close, and a band
for dancing, and a great feast out of doors.

Fred demurred, but Tom must be satisfied. Also Laura, a
handsome, clever girl, the bride, she also must have a great and
jolly feast. It appealed to her educated sense. She had been to
Salisbury Training College, knew folk-songs and
morris-dancing.

So the preparations were begun, directed by Tom Brangwen. A
marquee was set up on the home close, two large bonfires were
prepared. Musicians were hired, feast made ready.

Skrebensky was to come, arriving in the morning. Ursula had a
new white dress of soft crepe, and a white hat. She liked to
wear white. With her black hair and clear golden skin, she
looked southern, or rather tropical, like a Creole. She wore no
colour whatsoever.

She trembled that day as she appeared to go down to the
wedding. She was to be a bridesmaid. Skrebensky would not arrive
till afternoon. The wedding was at two o'clock.

As the wedding-party returned home, Skrebensky stood in the
parlour at the Marsh. Through the window he saw Tom Brangwen,
who was best man, coming up the garden path most elegant in
cut-away coat and white slip and spats, with Ursula laughing on
his arm. Tom Brangwen was handsome, with his womanish colouring
and dark eyes and black close-cut moustache. But there was
something subtly coarse and suggestive about him for all his
beauty; his strange, bestial nostrils opened so hard and wide,
and his well-shaped head almost disquieting in its nakedness,
rather bald from the front, and all its soft fulness
betrayed.

Skrebensky saw the man rather than the woman. She saw only
the slender, unchangeable youth waiting there inscrutable, like
her fate. He was beyond her, with his loose, slightly horsey
appearance, that made him seem very manly and foreign. Yet his
face was smooth and soft and impressionable. She shook hands
with him, and her voice was like the rousing of a bird startled
by the dawn.

"Isn't it nice," she cried, "to have a wedding?"

There were bits of coloured confetti lodged on her dark
hair.

Again the confusion came over him, as if he were losing
himself and becoming all vague, undefined, inchoate. Yet he
wanted to be hard, manly, horsey. And he followed her.

There was a light tea, and the guests scattered. The real
feast was for the evening. Ursula walked out with Skrebensky
through the stackyard to the fields, and up the embankment to
the canal-side.

The new corn-stacks were big and golden as they went by, an
army of white geese marched aside in braggart protest. Ursula
was light as a white ball of down. Skrebensky drifted beside
her, indefinite, his old from loosened, and another self, grey,
vague, drifting out as from a bud. They talked lightly, of
nothing.

The blue way of the canal wound softly between the autumn
hedges, on towards the greenness of a small hill. On the left
was the whole black agitation of colliery and railway and the
town which rose on its hill, the church tower topping all. The
round white dot of the clock on the tower was distinct in the
evening light.

That way, Ursula felt, was the way to London, through the
grim, alluring seethe of the town. On the other hand was the
evening, mellow over the green water-meadows and the winding
alder trees beside the river, and the pale stretches of stubble
beyond. There the evening glowed softly, and even a pee-wit was
flapping in solitude and peace.

Ursula and Anton Skrebensky walked along the ridge of the
canal between. The berries on the hedges were crimson and bright
red, above the leaves. The glow of evening and the wheeling of
the solitary pee-wit and the faint cry of the birds came to meet
the shuffling noise of the pits, the dark, fuming stress of the
town opposite, and they two walked the blue strip of water-way,
the ribbon of sky between.

He was looking, Ursula thought, very beautiful, because of a
flush of sunburn on his hands and face. He was telling her how
he had learned to shoe horses and select cattle fit for
killing.

"Do you like to be a soldier?" she asked.

"I am not exactly a soldier," he replied.

"But you only do things for wars," she said.

"Yes."

"Would you like to go to war?"

"I? Well, it would be exciting. If there were a war I would
want to go."

A strange, distracted feeling came over her, a sense of
potent unrealities.

"Why would you want to go?"

"I should be doing something, it would be genuine. It's a
sort of toy-life as it is."

"But what would you be doing if you went to war?"

"I would be making railways or bridges, working like a
nigger."

"But you'd only make them to be pulled down again when the
armies had done with them. It seems just as much a game."

"If you call war a game."

"What is it?"

"It's about the most serious business there is,
fighting."

A sense of hard separateness came over her.

"Why is fighting more serious than anything else?" she
asked.

"You either kill or get killed—and I suppose it is
serious enough, killing."

"But when you're dead you don't matter any more," she
said.

He was silenced for a moment.

"But the result matters," he said. "It matters whether we
settle the Mahdi or not."

"Not to you—nor me—we don't care about
Khartoum."

"You want to have room to live in: and somebody has to make
room."

"But I don't want to live in the desert of Sahara—do
you?" she replied, laughing with antagonism.

"I don't—but we've got to back up those who do.

"Why have we?"

"Where is the nation if we don't?"

"But we aren't the nation. There are heaps of other people
who are the nation."

"They might say they weren't either."

"Well, if everybody said it, there wouldn't be a nation. But
I should still be myself," she asserted brilliantly.

"You wouldn't be yourself if there were no nation."

"Why not?"

"Because you'd just be a prey to everybody and anybody."

"How a prey?"

"They'd come and take everything you'd got."

"Well, they couldn't take much even then. I don't care what
they take. I'd rather have a robber who carried me off than a
millionaire who gave me everything you can buy."

"That's because you are a romanticist."

"Yes, I am. I want to be romantic. I hate houses that never
go away, and people just living in the houses. It's all so stiff
and stupid. I hate soldiers, they are stiff and wooden. What do
you fight for, really?"

"I would fight for the nation."

"For all that, you aren't the nation. What would you do for
yourself?"

"I belong to the nation and must do my duty by the
nation."

"But when it didn't need your services in
particular—when there is no fighting? What would you do
then?"

He was irritated.

"I would do what everybody else does."

"What?"

"Nothing. I would be in readiness for when I was needed."

The answer came in exasperation.

"It seems to me," she answered, "as if you weren't
anybody—as if there weren't anybody there, where you are.
Are you anybody, really? You seem like nothing to me."

They had walked till they had reached a wharf, just above a
lock. There an empty barge, painted with a red and yellow cabin
hood, but with a long, coal-black hold, was lying moored. A man,
lean and grimy, was sitting on a box against the cabin-side by
the door, smoking, and nursing a baby that was wrapped in a drab
shawl, and looking into the glow of evening. A woman bustled
out, sent a pail dashing into the canal, drew her water, and
bustled in again. Children's voices were heard. A thin blue
smoke ascended from the cabin chimney, there was a smell of
cooking.

Ursula, white as a moth, lingered to look. Skrebensky
lingered by her. The man glanced up.

"Good evening," he called, half impudent, half attracted. He
had blue eyes which glanced impudently from his grimy face.

"Good evening," said Ursula, delighted. "Isn't it
nice now?"

"Ay," said the man, "very nice."

His mouth was red under his ragged, sandy moustache. His
teeth were white as he laughed.

"Oh, but—" stammered Ursula, laughing, "it is. Why do
you say it as if it weren't?"

"'Appen for them as is childt-nursin' it's none so rosy."

"May I look inside your barge?" asked Ursula.

"There's nobody'll stop you; you come if you like."

The barge lay at the opposite bank, at the wharf. It was the
Annabel, belonging to J. Ruth of Loughborough. The man
watched Ursula closely from his keen, twinkling eyes. His fair
hair was wispy on his grimed forehead. Two dirty children
appeared to see who was talking.

Ursula glanced at the great lock gates. They were shut, and
the water was sounding, spurting and trickling down in the gloom
beyond. On this side the bright water was almost to the top of
the gate. She went boldly across, and round to the wharf.

Stooping from the bank, she peeped into the cabin, where was
a red glow of fire and the shadowy figure of a woman. She did
want to go down.

"You'll mess your frock," said the man, warningly.

"I'll be careful," she answered. "May I come?"

"Ay, come if you like."

She gathered her skirts, lowered her foot to the side of the
boat, and leapt down, laughing. Coal-dust flew up.

The woman came to the door. She was plump and sandy-haired,
young, with an odd, stubby nose.

"Oh, you will make a mess of yourself," she cried,
surprised and laughing with a little wonder.

"I did want to see. Isn't it lovely living on a barge?" asked
Ursula.

"I don't live on one altogether," said the woman
cheerfully.

"She's got her parlour an' her plush suite in Loughborough,"
said her husband with just pride.

Ursula peeped into the cabin, where saucepans were boiling
and some dishes were on the table. It was very hot. Then she
came out again. The man was talking to the baby. It was a
blue-eyed, fresh-faced thing with floss of red-gold hair.

"Is it a boy or a girl?" she asked.

"It's a girl—aren't you a girl, eh?" he shouted at the
infant, shaking his head. Its little face wrinkled up into the
oddest, funniest smile.

"Oh!" cried Ursula. "Oh, the dear! Oh, how nice when she
laughs!"

"She'll laugh hard enough," said the father.

"What is her name?" asked Ursula.

"She hasn't got a name, she's not worth one," said the man.
"Are you, you fag-end o' nothing?" he shouted to the baby. The
baby laughed.

"No we've been that busy, we've never took her to th'
registry office," came the woman's voice. "She was born on th'
boat here."

"But you know what you're going to call her?" asked
Ursula.

"We did think of Gladys Em'ly," said the mother.

"We thought of nowt o' th' sort," said the father.

"Hark at him! What do you want?' cried the mother in
exasperation.

"She'll be called Annabel after th' boat she was born
on."

"She's not, so there," said the mother, viciously defiant

The father sat in humorous malice, grinning.

"Well, you'll see," he said.

And Ursula could tell, by the woman's vibrating exasperation,
that he would never give way.

"They're all nice names," she said. "Call her Gladys Annabel
Emily."

"Nay, that's heavy-laden, if you like," he answered.

"You see!" cried the woman. "He's that pig-headed!"

"And she's so nice, and she laughs, and she hasn't even got a
name," crooned Ursula to the child.

"Let me hold her," she added.

He yielded her the child, that smelt of babies. But it had
such blue, wide, china blue eyes, and it laughed so oddly, with
such a taking grimace, Ursula loved it. She cooed and talked to
it. It was such an odd, exciting child.

"What's your name?" the man suddenly asked of her.

"My name is Ursula—Ursula Brangwen," she replied.

"Ursula!" he exclaimed, dumbfounded.

"There was a Saint Ursula. It's a very old name," she added
hastily, in justification.

"Hey, mother!" he called.

There was no answer.

"Pem!" he called, "can't y'hear?"

"What?" came the short answer.

"What about 'Ursula'?" he grinned.

"What about what?" came the answer, and the woman
appeared in the doorway, ready for combat.

"Ursula—it's the lass's name there," he said,
gently.

The woman looked the young girl up and down. Evidently she
was attracted by her slim, graceful, new beauty, her effect of
white elegance, and her tender way of holding the child.

"Why, how do you write it?" the mother asked, awkward now she
was touched. Ursula spelled out her name. The man looked at the
woman. A bright, confused flush came over the mother's face, a
sort of luminous shyness.

"It's not a common name, is it!" she exclaimed,
excited as by an adventure.

"Are you goin' to have it then?" he asked.

"I'd rather have it than Annabel," she said, decisively.

"An' I'd rather have it than Gladys Em'ler," he replied.

There was a silence, Ursula looked up.

"Will you really call her Ursula?" she asked.

"Ursula Ruth," replied the man, laughing vainly, as pleased
as if he had found something.

It was now Ursula's turn to be confused.

"It does sound awfully nice," she said. "I must give
her something. And I haven't got anything at all."

She stood in her white dress, wondering, down there in the
barge. The lean man sitting near to her watched her as if she
were a strange being, as if she lit up his face. His eyes smiled
on her, boldly, and yet with exceeding admiration
underneath.

"Could I give her my necklace?" she said.

It was the little necklace made of pieces of amethyst and
topaz and pearl and crystal, strung at intervals on a little
golden chain, which her Uncle Tom had given her. She was very
fond of it. She looked at it lovingly, when she had taken it
from her neck.

"Is it valuable?" the man asked her, curiously.

"I think so," she replied.

"The stones and pearl are real; it is worth three or four
pounds," said Skrebensky from the wharf above. Ursula could tell
he disapproved of her.

"I must give it to your baby—may I?" she said to
the bargee.

He flushed, and looked away into the evening.

"Nay," he said, "it's not for me to say."

"What would your father and mother say?" cried the woman
curiously, from the door.

"It is my own," said Ursula, and she dangled the little
glittering string before the baby. The infant spread its little
fingers. But it could not grasp. Ursula closed the tiny hand
over the jewel. The baby waved the bright ends of the string.
Ursula had given her necklace away. She felt sad. But she did
not want it back.

The jewel swung from the baby's hand and fell in a little
heap on the coal-dusty bottom of the barge. The man groped for
it, with a kind of careful reverence. Ursula noticed the
coarsened, blunted fingers groping at the little jewelled heap.
The skin was red on the back of the hand, the fair hairs
glistened stiffly. It was a thin, sinewy, capable hand
nevertheless, and Ursula liked it. He took up the necklace
carefully, and blew the coal-dust from it, as it lay in the
hollow of his hand. He seemed still and attentive. He held out
his hand with the necklace shining small in its hard, black
hollow.

"Take it back," he said.

Ursula hardened with a kind of radiance.

"No," she said. "It belongs to little Ursula."

And she went to the infant and fastened the necklace round
its warm, soft, weak little neck.

There was a moment of confusion, then the father bent over
his child:

"What do you say?" he said. "Do you say thank you? Do you say
thank you, Ursula?"

"Her name's Ursula now," said the mother, smiling a
little bit ingratiatingly from the door. And she came out to
examine the jewel on the child's neck.

"It is Ursula, isn't it?" said Ursula Brangwen.

The father looked up at her, with an intimate, half-gallant,
half-impudent, but wistful look. His captive soul loved her: but
his soul was captive, he knew, always.

She wanted to go. He set a little ladder for her to climb up
to the wharf. She kissed the child, which was in its mother's
arms, then she turned away. The mother was effusive. The man
stood silent by the ladder.

Ursula joined Skrebensky. The two young figures crossed the
lock, above the shining yellow water. The barge-man watched them
go.

"I loved them," she was saying. "He was so
gentle—oh, so gentle! And the baby was such a dear!"

"Was he gentle?" said Skrebensky. "The woman had been a
servant, I'm sure of that."

Ursula winced.

"But I loved his impudence—it was so gentle
underneath."

She went hastening on, gladdened by having met the grimy,
lean man with the ragged moustache. He gave her a pleasant warm
feeling. He made her feel the richness of her own life.
Skrebensky, somehow, had created a deadness round her, a
sterility, as if the world were ashes.

They said very little as they hastened home to the big
supper. He was envying the lean father of three children, for
his impudent directness and his worship of the woman in Ursula,
a worship of body and soul together, the man's body and soul
wistful and worshipping the body and spirit of the girl, with a
desire that knew the inaccessibility of its object, but was only
glad to know that the perfect thing existed, glad to have had a
moment of communion.

Why could not he himself desire a woman so? Why did he never
really want a woman, not with the whole of him: never loved,
never worshipped, only just physically wanted her.

But he would want her with his body, let his soul do as it
would. A kind of flame of physical desire was gradually beating
up in the Marsh, kindled by Tom Brangwen, and by the fact of the
wedding of Fred, the shy, fair, stiff-set farmer with the
handsome, half-educated girl. Tom Brangwen, with all his secret
power, seemed to fan the flame that was rising. The bride was
strongly attracted by him, and he was exerting his influence on
another beautiful, fair girl, chill and burning as the sea, who
said witty things which he appreciated, making her glint with
more, like phosphorescence. And her greenish eyes seemed to rock
a secret, and her hands like mother-of-pearl seemed luminous,
transparent, as if the secret were burning visible in them.

At the end of supper, during dessert, the music began to
play, violins, and flutes. Everybody's face was lit up. A glow
of excitement prevailed. When the little speeches were over, and
the port remained unreached for any more, those who wished were
invited out to the open for coffee. The night was warm.

Bright stars were shining, the moon was not yet up. And under
the stars burned two great, red, flameless fires, and round
these lights and lanterns hung, the marquee stood open before a
fire, with its lights inside.

The young people flocked out into the mysterious night. There
was sound of laughter and voices, and a scent of coffee. The
farm-buildings loomed dark in the background. Figures, pale and
dark, flitted about, intermingling. The red fire glinted on a
white or a silken skirt, the lanterns gleamed on the transient
heads of the wedding guests.

To Ursula it was wonderful. She felt she was a new being. The
darkness seemed to breathe like the sides of some great beast,
the haystacks loomed half-revealed, a crowd of them, a dark,
fecund lair just behind. Waves of delirious darkness ran through
her soul. She wanted to let go. She wanted to reach and be
amongst the flashing stars, she wanted to race with her feet and
be beyond the confines of this earth. She was mad to be gone. It
was as if a hound were straining on the leash, ready to hurl
itself after a nameless quarry into the dark. And she was the
quarry, and she was also the hound. The darkness was passionate
and breathing with immense, unperceived heaving. It was waiting
to receive her in her flight. And how could she start—and
how could she let go? She must leap from the known into the
unknown. Her feet and hands beat like a madness, her breast
strained as if in bonds.

The music began, and the bonds began to slip. Tom Brangwen
was dancing with the bride, quick and fluid and as if in another
element, inaccessible as the creatures that move in the water.
Fred Brangwen went in with another partner. The music came in
waves. One couple after another was washed and absorbed into the
deep underwater of the dance.

"Come," said Ursula to Skrebensky, laying her hand on his
arm.

At the touch of her hand on his arm, his consciousness melted
away from him. He took her into his arms, as if into the sure,
subtle power of his will, and they became one movement, one dual
movement, dancing on the slippery grass. It would be endless,
this movement, it would continue for ever. It was his will and
her will locked in a trance of motion, two wills locked in one
motion, yet never fusing, never yielding one to the other. It
was a glaucous, intertwining, delicious flux and contest in
flux.

They were both absorbed into a profound silence, into a deep,
fluid underwater energy that gave them unlimited strength. All
the dancers were waving intertwined in the flux of music.
Shadowy couples passed and repassed before the fire, the dancing
feet danced silently by into the darkness. It was a vision of
the depths of the underworld, under the great flood.

There was a wonderful rocking of the darkness, slowly, a
great, slow swinging of the whole night, with the music playing
lightly on the surface, making the strange, ecstatic, rippling
on the surface of the dance, but underneath only one great flood
heaving slowly backwards to the verge of oblivion, slowly
forward to the other verge, the heart sweeping along each time,
and tightening with anguish as the limit was reached, and the
movement, at crises, turned and swept back.

As the dance surged heavily on, Ursula was aware of some
influence looking in upon her. Something was looking at her.
Some powerful, glowing sight was looking right into her, not
upon her, but right at her. Out of the great distance, and yet
imminent, the powerful, overwhelming watch was kept upon her.
And she danced on and on with Skrebensky, while the great, white
watching continued, balancing all in its revelation.

"The moon has risen," said Anton, as the music ceased, and
they found themselves suddenly stranded, like bits of jetsam on
a shore. She turned, and saw a great white moon looking at her
over the hill. And her breast opened to it, she was cleaved like
a transparent jewel to its light. She stood filled with the full
moon, offering herself. Her two breasts opened to make way for
it, her body opened wide like a quivering anemone, a soft,
dilated invitation touched by the moon. She wanted the moon to
fill in to her, she wanted more, more communion with the moon,
consummation. But Skrebensky put his arm round her, and led her
away. He put a big, dark cloak round her, and sat holding her
hand, whilst the moonlight streamed above the glowing fires.

She was not there. Patiently she sat, under the cloak, with
Skrebensky holding her hand. But her naked self was away there
beating upon the moonlight, dashing the moonlight with her
breasts and her knees, in meeting, in communion. She half
started, to go in actuality, to fling away her clothing and flee
away, away from this dark confusion and chaos of people to the
hill and the moon. But the people stood round her like stones,
like magnetic stones, and she could not go, in actuality.
Skrebensky, like a load-stone weighed on her, the weight of his
presence detained her. She felt the burden of him, the blind,
persistent, inert burden. He was inert, and he weighed upon her.
She sighed in pain. Oh, for the coolness and entire liberty and
brightness of the moon. Oh, for the cold liberty to be herself,
to do entirely as she liked. She wanted to get right away. She
felt like bright metal weighted down by dark, impure magnetism.
He was the dross, people were the dross. If she could but get
away to the clean free moonlight.

"Don't you like me to-night?" said his low voice, the voice
of the shadow over her shoulder. She clenched her hands in the
dewy brilliance of the moon, as if she were mad.

"Don't you like me to-night?" repeated the soft voice.

And she knew that if she turned, she would die. A strange
rage filled her, a rage to tear things asunder. Her hands felt
destructive, like metal blades of destruction.

"Let me alone," she said.

A darkness, an obstinacy settled on him too, in a kind of
inertia. He sat inert beside her. She threw off her cloak and
walked towards the moon, silver-white herself. He followed her
closely.

The music began again and the dance. He appropriated her.
There was a fierce, white, cold passion in her heart. But he
held her close, and danced with her. Always present, like a soft
weight upon her, bearing her down, was his body against her as
they danced. He held her very close, so that she could feel his
body, the weight of him sinking, settling upon her, overcoming
her life and energy, making her inert along with him, she felt
his hands pressing behind her, upon her. But still in her body
was the subdued, cold, indomitable passion. She liked the dance:
it eased her, put her into a sort of trance. But it was only a
kind of waiting, of using up the time that intervened between
her and her pure being. She left herself against him, she let
him exert all his power over her, to bear her down. She received
all the force of his power. She even wished he might overcome
her. She was cold and unmoved as a pillar of salt.

His will was set and straining with all its tension to
encompass him and compel her. If he could only compel her. He
seemed to be annihilated. She was cold and hard and compact of
brilliance as the moon itself, and beyond him as the moonlight
was beyond him, never to be grasped or known. If he could only
set a bond round her and compel her!

So they danced four or five dances, always together, always
his will becoming more tense, his body more subtle, playing upon
her. And still he had not got her, she was hard and bright as
ever, intact. But he must weave himself round her, enclose her,
enclose her in a net of shadow, of darkness, so she would be
like a bright creature gleaming in a net of shadows, caught.
Then he would have her, he would enjoy her. How he would enjoy
her, when she was caught.

At last, when the dance was over, she would not sit down, she
walked away. He came with his arm round her, keeping her upon
the movement of his walking. And she seemed to agree. She was
bright as a piece of moonlight, as bright as a steel blade, he
seemed to be clasping a blade that hurt him. Yet he would clasp
her, if it killed him.

They went towards the stackyard. There he saw, with something
like terror, the great new stacks of corn glistening and
gleaming transfigured, silvery and present under the night-blue
sky, throwing dark, substantial shadows, but themselves majestic
and dimly present. She, like glimmering gossamer, seemed to burn
among them, as they rose like cold fires to the silvery-bluish
air. All was intangible, a burning of cold, glimmering,
whitish-steely fires. He was afraid of the great
moon-conflagration of the cornstacks rising above him. His heart
grew smaller, it began to fuse like a bead. He knew he would
die.

She stood for some moments out in the overwhelming luminosity
of the moon. She seemed a beam of gleaming power. She was afraid
of what she was. Looking at him, at his shadowy, unreal,
wavering presence a sudden lust seized her, to lay hold of him
and tear him and make him into nothing. Her hands and wrists
felt immeasurably hard and strong, like blades. He waited there
beside her like a shadow which she wanted to dissipate, destroy
as the moonlight destroys a darkness, annihilate, have done
with. She looked at him and her face gleamed bright and
inspired. She tempted him.

And an obstinacy in him made him put his arm round her and
draw her to the shadow. She submitted: let him try what he could
do. Let him try what he could do. He leaned against the side of
the stack, holding her. The stack stung him keenly with a
thousand cold, sharp flames. Still obstinately he held her.

And timorously, his hands went over her, over the salt,
compact brilliance of her body. If he could but have her, how he
would enjoy her! If he could but net her brilliant, cold,
salt-burning body in the soft iron of his own hands, net her,
capture her, hold her down, how madly he would enjoy her. He
strove subtly, but with all his energy, to enclose her, to have
her. And always she was burning and brilliant and hard as salt,
and deadly. Yet obstinately, all his flesh burning and
corroding, as if he were invaded by some consuming, scathing
poison, still he persisted, thinking at last he might overcome
her. Even, in his frenzy, he sought for her mouth with his
mouth, though it was like putting his face into some awful
death. She yielded to him, and he pressed himself upon her in
extremity, his soul groaning over and over:

"Let me come—let me come."

She took him in the kiss, hard her kiss seized upon him, hard
and fierce and burning corrosive as the moonlight. She seemed to
be destroying him. He was reeling, summoning all his strength to
keep his kiss upon her, to keep himself in the kiss.

But hard and fierce she had fastened upon him, cold as the
moon and burning as a fierce salt. Till gradually his warm, soft
iron yielded, yielded, and she was there fierce, corrosive,
seething with his destruction, seething like some cruel,
corrosive salt around the last substance of his being,
destroying him, destroying him in the kiss. And her soul
crystallized with triumph, and his soul was dissolved with agony
and annihilation. So she held him there, the victim, consumed,
annihilated. She had triumphed: he was not any more.

Gradually she began to come to herself. Gradually a sort of
daytime consciousness came back to her. Suddenly the night was
struck back into its old, accustomed, mild reality. Gradually
she realized that the night was common and ordinary, that the
great, blistering, transcendent night did not really exist. She
was overcome with slow horror. Where was she? What was this
nothingness she felt? The nothingness was Skrebensky. Was he
really there?—who was he? He was silent, he was not there.
What had happened? Had she been mad: what horrible thing had
possessed her? She was filled with overpowering fear of herself,
overpowering desire that it should not be, that other burning,
corrosive self. She was seized with a frenzied desire that what
had been should never be remembered, never be thought of, never
be for one moment allowed possible. She denied it with all her
might. With all her might she turned away from it. She was good,
she was loving. Her heart was warm, her blood was dark and warm
and soft. She laid her hand caressively on Anton's shoulder.

"Isn't it lovely?" she said, softly, coaxingly, caressingly.
And she began to caress him to life again. For he was dead. And
she intended that he should never know, never become aware of
what had been. She would bring him back from the dead without
leaving him one trace of fact to remember his annihilation
by.

She exerted all her ordinary, warm self, she touched him, she
did him homage of loving awareness. And gradually he came back
to her, another man. She was soft and winning and caressing. She
was his servant, his adoring slave. And she restored the whole
shell of him. She restored the whole form and figure of him. But
the core was gone. His pride was bolstered up, his blood ran
once more in pride. But there was no core to him: as a distinct
male he had no core. His triumphant, flaming, overweening heart
of the intrinsic male would never beat again. He would be
subject now, reciprocal, never the indomitable thing with a core
of overweening, unabateable fire. She had abated that fire, she
had broken him.

But she caressed him. She would not have him remember what
had been. She would not remember herself.

"Kiss me, Anton, kiss me," she pleaded.

He kissed her, but she knew he could not touch her. His arms
were round her, but they had not got her. She could feel his
mouth upon her, but she was not at all compelled by it.

"Kiss me," she whispered, in acute distress, "kiss me."

And he kissed her as she bade him, but his heart was hollow.
She took his kisses, outwardly. But her soul was empty and
finished.

Looking away, she saw the delicate glint of oats dangling
from the side of the stack, in the moonlight, something proud
and royal, and quite impersonal. She had been proud with them,
where they were, she had been also. But in this temporary warm
world of the commonplace, she was a kind, good girl. She reached
out yearningly for goodness and affection. She wanted to be kind
and good.

They went home through the night that was all pale and
glowing around, with shadows and glimmerings and presences.
Distinctly, she saw the flowers in the hedge-bottoms, she saw
the thin, raked sheaves flung white upon the thorny hedge.

How beautiful, how beautiful it was! She thought with anguish
how wildly happy she was to-night, since he had kissed her. But
as he walked with his arm round her waist, she turned with a
great offering of herself to the night that glistened
tremendous, a magnificent godly moon white and candid as a
bridegroom, flowers silvery and transformed filling up the
shadows.

He kissed her again, under the yew trees at home, and she
left him. She ran from the intrusion of her parents at home, to
her bedroom, where, looking out on the moonlit country, she
stretched up her arms, hard, hard, in bliss, agony offering
herself to the blond, debonair presence of the night.

But there was a wound of sorrow, she had hurt herself, as if
she had bruised herself, in annihilating him. She covered up her
two young breasts with her hands, covering them to herself; and
covering herself with herself, she crouched in bed, to
sleep.

In the morning the sun shone, she got up strong and dancing.
Skrebensky was still at the Marsh. He was coming to church. How
lovely, how amazing life was! On the fresh Sunday morning she
went out to the garden, among the yellows and the deep-vibrating
reds of autumn, she smelled the earth and felt the gossamer, the
cornfields across the country were pale and unreal, everywhere
was the intense silence of the Sunday morning, filled with
unacquainted noises. She smelled the body of the earth, it
seemed to stir its powerful flank beneath her as she stood. In
the bluish air came the powerful exudation, the peace was the
peace of strong, exhausted breathing, the reds and yellows and
the white gleam of stubble were the quivers and motion of the
last subsiding transports and clear bliss of fulfilment.

The church-bells were ringing when he came. She looked up in
keen anticipation at his entry. But he was troubled and his
pride was hurt. He seemed very much clothed, she was conscious
of his tailored suit.

"Wasn't it lovely last night?" she whispered to him.

"Yes," he said. But his face did not open nor become
free.

The service and the singing in church that morning passed
unnoticed by her. She saw the coloured glow of the windows, the
forms of the worshippers. Only she glanced at the book of
Genesis, which was her favourite book in the Bible.

"And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be
fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth.

"And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every
beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all
that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes in the sea;
into your hand are they delivered.

"Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even
as the green herb have I given you all things."

But Ursula was not moved by the history this morning.
Multiplying and replenishing the earth bored her. Altogether it
seemed merely a vulgar and stock-raising sort of business. She
was left quite cold by man's stock-breeding lordship over beast
and fishes.

"And you, be ye fruitful and multiply; bring forth abundantly
in the earth, and multiply therein."

In her soul she mocked at this multiplication, every cow
becoming two cows, every turnip ten turnips.

"And God said; This is the token of the covenant which I make
between me and you and every living creature that is with you,
for perpetual generations;

"I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a token of a
covenant between me and the earth.

"And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the
earth, that a bow shall be seen in the cloud;

"And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you
and every living creature of all flesh, and the waters shall no
more become a flood to destroy all flesh."

"Destroy all flesh," why "flesh" in particular? Who was this
lord of flesh? After all, how big was the Flood? Perhaps a few
dryads and fauns had just run into the hills and the farther
valleys and woods, frightened, but most had gone on blithely
unaware of any flood at all, unless the nymphs should tell them.
It pleased Ursula to think of the naiads in Asia Minor meeting
the nereids at the mouth of the streams, where the sea washed
against the fresh, sweet tide, and calling to their sisters the
news of Noah's Flood. They would tell amusing accounts of Noah
in his ark. Some nymphs would relate how they had hung on the
side of the ark, peeped in, and heard Noah and Shem and Ham and
Japeth, sitting in their place under the rain, saying, how they
four were the only men on earth now, because the Lord had
drowned all the rest, so that they four would have everything to
themselves, and be masters of every thing, sub-tenants under the
great Proprietor.

Ursula wished she had been a nymph. She would have laughed
through the window of the ark, and flicked drops of the flood at
Noah, before she drifted away to people who were less important
in their Proprietor and their Flood.

What was God, after all? If maggots in a dead dog be but God
kissing carrion, what then is not God? She was surfeited of this
God. She was weary of the Ursula Brangwen who felt troubled
about God. What ever God was, He was, and there was no need for
her to trouble about Him. She felt she had now all licence.

Skrebensky sat beside her, listening to the sermon, to the
voice of law and order. "The very hairs of your head are all
numbered." He did not believe it. He believed his own things
were quite at his own disposal. You could do as you liked with
your own things, so long as you left other people's alone.

Ursula caressed him and made love to him. Nevertheless he
knew she wanted to react upon him and to destroy his being. She
was not with him, she was against him. But her making love to
him, her complete admiration of him, in open life, gratified
him.

She caught him out of himself, and they were lovers, in a
young, romantic, almost fantastic way. He gave her a little
ring. They put it in Rhine wine, in their glass, and she drank,
then he drank. They drank till the ring lay exposed at the
bottom of the glass. Then she took the simple jewel, and tied it
on a thread round her neck, where she wore it.

He asked her for a photograph when he was going away. She
went in great excitement to the photographer, with five
shillings. The result was an ugly little picture of herself with
her mouth on one side. She wondered over it and admired it.

He saw only the live face of the girl. The picture hurt him.
He kept it, he always remembered it, but he could scarcely bear
to see it. There was a hurt to his soul in the clear, fearless
face that was touched with abstraction. Its abstraction was
certainly away from him.

Then war was declared with the Boers in South Africa, and
everywhere was a fizz of excitement. He wrote that he might have
to go. And he sent her a box of sweets.

She was slightly dazed at the thought of his going to the
war, not knowing how to feel. It was a sort of romantic
situation that she knew so well in fiction she hardly understood
it in fact. Underneath a top elation was a sort of dreariness,
deep, ashy disappointment.

However, she secreted the sweets under her bed, and ate them
all herself, when she went to bed, and when she woke in the
morning. All the time she felt very guilty and ashamed, but she
simply did not want to share them.

That box of sweets remained stuck in her mind afterwards. Why
had she secreted them and eaten them every one? Why? She did not
feel guilty—she only knew she ought to feel guilty. And
she could not make up her mind. Curiously monumental that box of
sweets stood up, now it was empty. It was a crux for her. What
was she to think of it?

The idea of war altogether made her feel uneasy, uneasy. When
men began organized fighting with each other it seemed to her as
if the poles of the universe were cracking, and the whole might
go tumbling into the bottomless pit. A horrible bottomless
feeling she had. Yet of course there was the minted
superscription of romance and honour and even religion about
war. She was very confused.

Skrebensky was busy, he could not come to see her. She asked
for no assurance, no security. What was between them, was, and
could not be altered by avowals. She knew that by instinct, she
trusted to the intrinsic reality.

But she felt an agony of helplessness. She could do nothing.
Vaguely she knew the huge powers of the world rolling and
crashing together, darkly, clumsily, stupidly, yet colossal, so
that one was brushed along almost as dust. Helpless, helpless,
swirling like dust! Yet she wanted so hard to rebel, to rage, to
fight. But with what?

Could she with her hands fight the face of the earth, beat
the hills in their places? Yet her breast wanted to fight, to
fight the whole world. And these two small hands were all she
had to do it with.

The months went by, and it was Christmas—the snowdrops
came. There was a little hollow in the wood near Cossethay,
where snowdrops grew wild. She sent him some in a box, and he
wrote her a quick little note of thanks—very grateful and
wistful he seemed. Her eyes grew childlike and puzzled. Puzzled
from day to day she went on, helpless, carried along by all that
must happen.

He went about at his duties, giving himself up to them. At
the bottom of his heart his self, the soul that aspired and had
true hope of self-effectuation lay as dead, still-born, a dead
weight in his womb. Who was he, to hold important his personal
connection? What did a man matter personally? He was just a
brick in the whole great social fabric, the nation, the modern
humanity. His personal movements were small, and entirely
subsidiary. The whole form must be ensured, not ruptured, for
any personal reason whatsoever, since no personal reason could
justify such a breaking. What did personal intimacy matter? One
had to fill one's place in the whole, the great scheme of man's
elaborate civilization, that was all. The Whole
mattered—but the unit, the person, had no importance,
except as he represented the Whole.

So Skrebensky left the girl out and went his way, serving
what he had to serve, and enduring what he had to endure,
without remark. To his own intrinsic life, he was dead. And he
could not rise again from the dead. His soul lay in the tomb.
His life lay in the established order of things. He had his five
senses too. They were to be gratified. Apart from this, he
represented the great, established, extant Idea of life, and as
this he was important and beyond question.

The good of the greatest number was all that mattered. That
which was the greatest good for them all, collectively, was the
greatest good for the individual. And so, every man must give
himself to support the state, and so labour for the greatest
good of all. One might make improvements in the state, perhaps,
but always with a view to preserving it intact.

No highest good of the community, however, would give him the
vital fulfilment of his soul. He knew this. But he did not
consider the soul of the individual sufficiently important. He
believed a man was important in so far as he represented all
humanity.

He could not see, it was not born in him to see, that the
highest good of the community as it stands is no longer the
highest good of even the average individual. He thought that,
because the community represents millions of people, therefore
it must be millions of times more important than any individual,
forgetting that the community is an abstraction from the many,
and is not the many themselves. Now when the statement of the
abstract good for the community has become a formula lacking in
all inspiration or value to the average intelligence, then the
"common good" becomes a general nuisance, representing the
vulgar, conservative materialism at a low level.

And by the highest good of the greatest number is chiefly
meant the material prosperity of all classes. Skrebensky did not
really care about his own material prosperity. If he had been
penniless—well, he would have taken his chances. Therefore
how could he find his highest good in giving up his life for the
material prosperity of everybody else! What he considered an
unimportant thing for himself he could not think worthy of every
sacrifice on behalf of other people. And that which he would
consider of the deepest importance to himself as an
individual—oh, he said, you mustn't consider the community
from that standpoint. No—no—we know what the
community wants; it wants something solid, it wants good wages,
equal opportunities, good conditions of living, that's what the
community wants. It doesn't want anything subtle or difficult.
Duty is very plain-keep in mind the material, the immediate
welfare of every man, that's all.

So there came over Skrebensky a sort of nullity, which more
and more terrified Ursula. She felt there was something hopeless
which she had to submit to. She felt a great sense of disaster
impending. Day after day was made inert with a sense of
disaster. She became morbidly sensitive, depressed,
apprehensive. It was anguish to her when she saw one rook slowly
flapping in the sky. That was a sign of ill-omen. And the
foreboding became so black and so powerful in her, that she was
almost extinguished.

Yet what was the matter? At the worst he was only going away.
Why did she mind, what was it she feared? She did not know. Only
she had a black dread possessing her. When she went at night and
saw the big, flashing stars they seemed terrible, by day she was
always expecting some charge to be made against her.

He wrote in March to say that he was going to South Africa in
a short time, but before he went, he would snatch a day at the
Marsh.

As if in a painful dream, she waited suspended, unresolved.
She did not know, she could not understand. Only she felt that
all the threads of her fate were being held taut, in suspense.
She only wept sometimes as she went about, saying blindly:

"I am so fond of him, I am so fond of him."

He came. But why did he come? She looked at him for a sign.
He gave no sign. He did not even kiss her. He behaved as if he
were an affable, usual acquaintance. This was superficial, but
what did it hide? She waited for him, she wanted him to make
some sign.

So the whole of the day they wavered and avoided contact,
until evening. Then, laughing, saying he would be back in six
months' time and would tell them all about it, he shook hands
with her mother and took his leave.

Ursula accompanied him into the lane. The night was windy,
the yew trees seethed and hissed and vibrated. The wind seemed
to rush about among the chimneys and the church-tower. It was
dark.

The wind blew Ursula's face, and her clothes cleaved to her
limbs. But it was a surging, turgid wind, instinct with
compressed vigour of life. And she seemed to have lost
Skrebensky. Out there in the strong, urgent night she could not
find him.

"Where are you?" she asked.

"Here," came his bodiless voice.

And groping, she touched him. A fire like lightning drenched
them.

"Anton?" she said.

"What?" he answered.

She held him with her hands in the darkness, she felt his
body again with hers.

"Don't leave me—come back to me," she said.

"Yes," he said, holding her in his arms.

But the male in him was scotched by the knowledge that she
was not under his spell nor his influence. He wanted to go away
from her. He rested in the knowledge that to-morrow he was going
away, his life was really elsewhere. His life was
elsewhere—his life was elsewhere—the centre of his
life was not what she would have. She was different—there
was a breach between them. They were hostile worlds.

"You will come back to me?" she reiterated.

"Yes," he said. And he meant it. But as one keeps an
appointment, not as a man returning to his fulfilment.

So she kissed him, and went indoors, lost. He walked down to
the Marsh abstracted. The contact with her hurt him, and
threatened him. He shrank, he had to be free of her spirit. For
she would stand before him, like the angel before Balaam, and
drive him back with a sword from the way he was going, into a
wilderness.

The next day she went to the station to see him go. She
looked at him, she turned to him, but he was always so strange
and null—so null. He was so collected. She thought it was
that which made him null. Strangely nothing he was.

Ursula stood near him with a mute, pale face which he would
rather not see. There seemed some shame at the very root of
life, cold, dead shame for her.

The three made a noticeable group on the station; the girl in
her fur cap and tippet and her olive green costume, pale, tense
with youth, isolated, unyielding; the soldierly young man in a
crush hat and a heavy overcoat, his face rather pale and
reserved above his purple scarf, his whole figure neutral; then
the elder man, a fashionable bowler hat pressed low over his
dark brows, his face warm-coloured and calm, his whole figure
curiously suggestive of full-blooded indifference; he was the
eternal audience, the chorus, the spectator at the drama; in his
own life he would have no drama.

The train was rushing up. Ursula's heart heaved, but the ice
was frozen too strong upon it.

"Good-bye," she said, lifting her hand, her face laughing
with her peculiar, blind, almost dazzling laugh. She wondered
what he was doing, when he stooped and kissed her. He should be
shaking hands and going.

"Good-bye," she said again.

He picked up his little bag and turned his back on her. There
was a hurry along the train. Ah, here was his carriage. He took
his seat. Tom Brangwen shut the door, and the two men shook
hands as the whistle went.

"Good-bye—and good luck," said Brangwen.

"Thank you—good-bye."

The train moved off. Skrebensky stood at the carriage window,
waving, but not really looking to the two figures, the girl and
the warm-coloured, almost effeminately-dressed man Ursula waved
her handkerchief. The train gathered speed, it grew smaller and
smaller. Still it ran in a straight line. The speck of white
vanished. The rear of the train was small in the distance. Still
she stood on the platform, feeling a great emptiness about her.
In spite of herself her mouth was quivering: she did not want to
cry: her heart was dead cold.

Her Uncle Tom had gone to an automatic machine, and was
getting matches.

"Would you like some sweets?" he said, turning round.

Her face was covered with tears, she made curious, downward
grimaces with her mouth, to get control. Yet her heart was not
crying—it was cold and earthy.

"What kind would you like—any?" persisted her
uncle.

"I should love some peppermint drops," she said, in a
strange, normal voice, from her distorted face. But in a few
moments she had gained control of herself, and was still,
detached.

"Let us go into the town," he said, and he rushed her into a
train, moving to the town station. They went to a cafe to drink
coffee, she sat looking at people in the street, and a great
wound was in her breast, a cold imperturbability in her
soul.

This cold imperturbability of spirit continued in her now. It
was as if some disillusion had frozen upon her, a hard
disbelief. Part of her had gone cold, apathetic. She was too
young, too baffled to understand, or even to know that she
suffered much. And she was too deeply hurt to submit.

She had her blind agonies, when she wanted him, she wanted
him. But from the moment of his departure, he had become a
visionary thing of her own. All her roused torment and passion
and yearning she turned to him.

She kept a diary, in which she wrote impulsive thoughts.
Seeing the moon in the sky, her own heart surcharged, she went
and wrote:

"If I were the moon, I know where I would fall down."

It meant so much to her, that sentence—she put into it
all the anguish of her youth and her young passion and yearning.
She called to him from her heart wherever she went, her limbs
vibrated with anguish towards him wherever she was, the
radiating force of her soul seemed to travel to him, endlessly,
endlessly, and in her soul's own creation, find him.

But who was he, and where did he exist? In her own desire
only.

She received a post-card from him, and she put it in her
bosom. It did not mean much to her, really. The second day, she
lost it, and never even remembered she had had it, till some
days afterwards.

The long weeks went by. There came the constant bad news of
the war. And she felt as if all, outside there in the world,
were a hurt, a hurt against her. And something in her soul
remained cold, apathetic, unchanging.

Her life was always only partial at this time, never did she
live completely. There was the cold, unliving part of her. Yet
she was madly sensitive. She could not bear herself. When a
dirty, red-eyed old woman came begging of her in the street, she
started away as from an unclean thing. And then, when the old
woman shouted acrid insults after her, she winced, her limbs
palpitated with insane torment, she could not bear herself.
Whenever she thought of the red-eyed old woman, a sort of
madness ran in inflammation over her flesh and her brain, she
almost wanted to kill herself.

And in this state, her sexual life flamed into a kind of
disease within her. She was so overwrought and sensitive, that
the mere touch of coarse wool seemed to tear her nerves.







CHAPTER XII

SHAME

Ursula had only two more terms at school. She was studying
for her matriculation examination. It was dreary work, for she
had very little intelligence when she was disjointed from
happiness. Stubbornness and a consciousness of impending fate
kept her half-heartedly pinned to it. She knew that soon she
would want to become a self-responsible person, and her dread
was that she would be prevented. An all-containing will in her
for complete independence, complete social independence,
complete independence from any personal authority, kept her
dullishly at her studies. For she knew that she had always her
price of ransom—her femaleness. She was always a woman,
and what she could not get because she was a human being, fellow
to the rest of mankind, she would get because she was a female,
other than the man. In her femaleness she felt a secret riches,
a reserve, she had always the price of freedom.

However, she was sufficiently reserved about this last
resource. The other things should be tried first. There was the
mysterious man's world to be adventured upon, the world of daily
work and duty, and existence as a working member of the
community. Against this she had a subtle grudge. She wanted to
make her conquest also of this man's world.

So she ground away at her work, never giving it up. Some
things she liked. Her subjects were English, Latin, French,
mathematics and history. Once she knew how to read French and
Latin, the syntax bored her. Most tedious was the close study of
English literature. Why should one remember the things one read?
Something in mathematics, their cold absoluteness, fascinated
her, but the actual practice was tedious. Some people in history
puzzled her and made her ponder, but the political parts angered
her, and she hated ministers. Only in odd streaks did she get a
poignant sense of acquisition and enrichment and enlarging from
her studies; one afternoon, reading As You Like It; once when,
with her blood, she heard a passage of Latin, and she knew how
the blood beat in a Roman's body; so that ever after she felt
she knew the Romans by contact. She enjoyed the vagaries of
English Grammar, because it gave her pleasure to detect the live
movements of words and sentences; and mathematics, the very
sight of the letters in Algebra, had a real lure for her.

She felt so much and so confusedly at this time, that her
face got a queer, wondering, half-scared look, as if she were
not sure what might seize upon her at any moment out of the
unknown.

Odd little bits of information stirred unfathomable passion
in her. When she knew that in the tiny brown buds of autumn were
folded, minute and complete, the finished flowers of the summer
nine months hence, tiny, folded up, and left there waiting, a
flash of triumph and love went over her.

"I could never die while there was a tree," she said
passionately, sententiously, standing before a great ash in
worship.

It was the people who, somehow, walked as an upright menace
to her. Her life at this time was unformed, palpitating,
essentially shrinking from all touch. She gave something to
other people, but she was never herself, since she had no self.
She was not afraid nor ashamed before trees, and birds, and the
sky. But she shrank violently from people, ashamed she was not
as they were, fixed, emphatic, but a wavering, undefined
sensibility only, without form or being.

Gudrun was at this time a great comfort and shield to her.
The younger girl was a lithe, farouche animal, who
mistrusted all approach, and would have none of the petty
secrecies and jealousies of schoolgirl intimacy. She would have
no truck with the tame cats, nice or not, because she believed
that they were all only untamed cats with a nasty, untrustworthy
habit of tameness.

This was a great stand-back for Ursula, who suffered agonies
when she thought a person disliked her, no matter how much she
despised that other person. How could anyone dislike her, Ursula
Brangwen? The question terrified her and was unanswerable. She
sought refuge in Gudrun's natural, proud indifference.

It had been discovered that Gudrun had a talent for drawing.
This solved the problem of the girl's indifference to all study.
It was said of her, "She can draw marvellously."

Suddenly Ursula found a queer awareness existed between
herself and her class-mistress, Miss Inger. The latter was a
rather beautiful woman of twenty-eight, a fearless-seeming,
clean type of modern girl whose very independence betrays her
sorrow. She was clever, and expert in what she did, accurate,
quick, commanding.

To Ursula she had always given pleasure, because of her
clear, decided, yet graceful appearance. She carried her head
high, a little thrown back, and Ursula thought there was a look
of nobility in the way she twisted her smooth brown hair upon
her head. She always wore clean, attractive, well-fitting
blouses, and a well-made skirt. Everything about her was so
well-ordered, betraying a fine, clear spirit, that it was a
pleasure to sit in her class.

Her voice was just as ringing and clear, and with unwavering,
finely-touched modulation. Her eyes were blue, clear, proud, she
gave one altogether the sense of a fine-mettled, scrupulously
groomed person, and of an unyielding mind. Yet there was an
infinite poignancy about her, a great pathos in her lonely,
proudly closed mouth.

It was after Skrebensky had gone that there sprang up between
the mistress and the girl that strange awareness, then the
unspoken intimacy that sometimes connects two people who may
never even make each other's acquaintance. Before, they had
always been good friends, in the undistinguished way of the
class-room, with the professional relationship of mistress and
scholar always present. Now, however, another thing came to
pass. When they were in the room together, they were aware of
each other, almost to the exclusion of everything else. Winifred
Inger felt a hot delight in the lessons when Ursula was present,
Ursula felt her whole life begin when Miss Inger came into the
room. Then, with the beloved, subtly-intimate teacher present,
the girl sat as within the rays of some enrichening sun, whose
intoxicating heat poured straight into her veins.

The state of bliss, when Miss Inger was present, was supreme
in the girl, but always eager, eager. As she went home, Ursula
dreamed of the schoolmistress, made infinite dreams of things
she could give her, of how she might make the elder woman adore
her.

Miss Inger was a Bachelor of Arts, who had studied at
Newnham. She was a clergyman's daughter, of good family. But
what Ursula adored so much was her fine, upright, athletic
bearing, and her indomitably proud nature. She was proud and
free as a man, yet exquisite as a woman.

The girl's heart burned in her breast as she set off for
school in the morning. So eager was her breast, so glad her
feet, to travel towards the beloved. Ah, Miss Inger, how
straight and fine was her back, how strong her loins, how calm
and free her limbs!

Ursula craved ceaselessly to know if Miss Inger cared for
her. As yet no definite sign had been passed between the two.
Yet surely, surely Miss Inger loved her too, was fond of her,
liked her at least more than the rest of the scholars in the
class. Yet she was never certain. It might be that Miss Inger
cared nothing for her. And yet, and yet, with blazing heart,
Ursula felt that if only she could speak to her, touch her, she
would know.

The summer term came, and with it the swimming class. Miss
Inger was to take the swimming class. Then Ursula trembled and
was dazed with passion. Her hopes were soon to be realized. She
would see Miss Inger in her bathing dress.

The day came. In the great bath the water was glimmering pale
emerald green, a lovely, glimmering mass of colour within the
whitish marble-like confines. Overhead the light fell softly and
the great green body of pure water moved under it as someone
dived from the side.

Ursula, trembling, hardly able to contain herself, pulled off
her clothes, put on her tight bathing-suit, and opened the door
of her cabin. Two girls were in the water. The mistress had not
appeared. She waited. A door opened. Miss Inger came out,
dressed in a rust-red tunic like a Greek girl's, tied round the
waist, and a red silk handkerchief round her head. How lovely
she looked! Her knees were so white and strong and proud, and
she was firm-bodied as Diana. She walked simply to the side of
the bath, and with a negligent movement, flung herself in. For a
moment Ursula watched the white, smooth, strong shoulders, and
the easy arms swimming. Then she too dived into the water.

Now, ah now, she was swimming in the same water with her dear
mistress. The girl moved her limbs voluptuously, and swam by
herself, deliciously, yet with a craving of unsatisfaction. She
wanted to touch the other, to touch her, to feel her.

"I will race you, Ursula," came the well-modulated voice.

Ursula started violently. She turned to see the warm,
unfolded face of her mistress looking at her, to her. She was
acknowledged. Laughing her own beautiful, startled laugh, she
began to swim. The mistress was just ahead, swimming with easy
strokes. Ursula could see the head put back, the water
flickering upon the white shoulders, the strong legs kicking
shadowily. And she swam blinded with passion. Ah, the beauty of
the firm, white, cool flesh! Ah, the wonderful firm limbs. Ah,
if she did not so despise her own thin, dusky fragment of a
body, if only she too were fearless and capable.

She swam on eagerly, not wanting to win, only wanting to be
near her mistress, to swim in a race with her. They neared the
end of the bath, the deep end. Miss Inger touched the pipe,
swung herself round, and caught Ursula round the waist in the
water, and held her for a moment.

"I won," said Miss Inger, laughing.

There was a moment of suspense. Ursula's heart was beating so
fast, she clung to the rail, and could not move. Her dilated,
warm, unfolded, glowing face turned to the mistress, as if to
her very sun.

"Good-bye," said Miss Inger, and she swam away to the other
pupils, taking professional interest in them.

Ursula was dazed. She could still feel the touch of the
mistress's body against her own—only this, only this. The
rest of the swimming time passed like a trance. When the call
was given to leave the water, Miss Inger walked down the bath
towards Ursula. Her rust-red, thin tunic was clinging to her,
the whole body was defined, firm and magnificent, as it seemed
to the girl.

"I enjoyed our race, Ursula, did you?" said Miss Inger.

The girl could only laugh with revealed, open, glowing
face.

The love was now tacitly confessed. But it was some time
before any further progress was made. Ursula continued in
suspense, in inflamed bliss.

Then one day, when she was alone, the mistress came near to
her, and touching her cheek with her fingers, said with some
difficulty.

"Would you like to come to tea with me on Saturday,
Ursula?"

The girl flushed all gratitude.

"We'll go to a lovely little bungalow on the Soar, shall we?
I stay the week-ends there sometimes."

Ursula was beside herself. She could not endure till the
Saturday came, her thoughts burned up like a fire. If only it
were Saturday, if only it were Saturday.

Then Saturday came, and she set out. Miss Inger met her in
Sawley, and they walked about three miles to the bungalow. It
was a moist, warm cloudy day.

The bungalow was a tiny, two-roomed shanty set on a steep
bank. Everything in it was exquisite. In delicious privacy, the
two girls made tea, and then they talked. Ursula need not be
home till about ten o'clock.

The talk was led, by a kind of spell, to love. Miss Inger was
telling Ursula of a friend, how she had died in childbirth, and
what she had suffered; then she told of a prostitute, and of
some of her experiences with men.

As they talked thus, on the little verandah of the bungalow,
the night fell, there was a little warm rain.

"It is really stifling," said Miss Inger.

They watched a train, whose lights were pale in the lingering
twilight, rushing across the distance.

"It will thunder," said Ursula.

The electric suspense continued, the darkness sank, they were
eclipsed.

"I think I shall go and bathe," said Miss Inger, out of the
cloud-black darkness.

"At night?" said Ursula.

"It is best at night. Will you come?"

"I should like to."

"It is quite safe—the grounds are private. We had
better undress in the bungalow, for fear of the rain, then run
down."

Shyly, stiffly, Ursula went into the bungalow, and began to
remove her clothes. The lamp was turned low, she stood in the
shadow. By another chair Winifred Inger was undressing.

Soon the naked, shadowy figure of the elder girl came to the
younger.

"Are you ready?" she said.

"One moment."

Ursula could hardly speak. The other naked woman stood by,
stood near, silent. Ursula was ready.

They ventured out into the darkness, feeling the soft air of
night upon their skins.

"I can't see the path," said Ursula.

"It is here," said the voice, and the wavering, pallid figure
was beside her, a hand grasping her arm. And the elder held the
younger close against her, close, as they went down, and by the
side of the water, she put her arms round her, and kissed her.
And she lifted her in her arms, close, saying, softly:

"I shall carry you into the water."

[Ursula lay still in her mistress's arms, her forehead against the
beloved, maddening breast.



"I shall put you in," said Winifred.



But Ursula twined her body about her mistress.]

After awhile the rain came down on their flushed, hot limbs,
startling, delicious. A sudden, ice-cold shower burst in a great
weight upon them. They stood up to it with pleasure. Ursula
received the stream of it upon her breasts and her limbs. It
made her cold, and a deep, bottomless silence welled up in her,
as if bottomless darkness were returning upon her.

So the heat vanished away, she was chilled, as if from a
waking up. She ran indoors, a chill, non-existent thing, wanting
to get away. She wanted the light, the presence of other people,
the external connection with the many. Above all she wanted to
lose herself among natural surroundings.

She took her leave of her mistress and returned home. She was
glad to be on the station with a crowd of Saturday-night people,
glad to sit in the lighted, crowded railway carriage. Only she
did not want to meet anybody she knew. She did not want to talk.
She was alone, immune.

All this stir and seethe of lights and people was but the
rim, the shores of a great inner darkness and void. She wanted
very much to be on the seething, partially illuminated shore,
for within her was the void reality of dark space.

For a time Miss Inger, her mistress, was gone; she was only a
dark void, and Ursula was free as a shade walking in an
underworld of extinction, of oblivion. Ursula was glad, with a
kind of motionless, lifeless gladness, that her mistress was
extinct, gone out of her.

In the morning, however, the love was there again, burning,
burning. She remembered yesterday, and she wanted more, always
more. She wanted to be with her mistress. All separation from
her mistress was a restriction from living. Why could she not go
to her to-day, to-day? Why must she pace about revoked at
Cossethay whilst her mistress was elsewhere? She sat down and
wrote a burning, passionate love-letter: she could not help
it.

The two women became intimate. Their lives seemed suddenly to
fuse into one, inseparable. Ursula went to Winifred's lodging,
she spent there her only living hours. Winifred was very fond of
water,—of swimming, of rowing. She belonged to various
athletic clubs. Many delicious afternoons the two girls spent in
a light boat on the river, Winifred always rowing. Indeed,
Winifred seemed to delight in having Ursula in her charge, in
giving things to the girl, in filling and enrichening her
life.

So that Ursula developed rapidly during the few months of her
intimacy with her mistress. Winifred had had a scientific
education. She had known many clever people. She wanted to bring
Ursula to her own position of thought.

They took religion and rid it of its dogmas, its falsehoods.
Winifred humanized it all. Gradually it dawned upon Ursula that
all the religion she knew was but a particular clothing to a
human aspiration. The aspiration was the real thing,—the
clothing was a matter almost of national taste or need. The
Greeks had a naked Apollo, the Christians a white-robed Christ,
the Buddhists a royal prince, the Egyptians their Osiris.
Religions were local and religion was universal. Christianity
was a local branch. There was as yet no assimilation of local
religions into universal religion.

In religion there were the two great motives of fear and
love. The motive of fear was as great as the motive of love.
Christianity accepted crucifixion to escape from fear; "Do your
worst to me, that I may have no more fear of the worst." But
that which was feared was not necessarily all evil, and that
which was loved not necessarily all good. Fear shall become
reverence, and reverence is submission in identification; love
shall become triumph, and triumph is delight in
identification.

So much she talked of religion, getting the gist of many
writings. In philosophy she was brought to the conclusion that
the human desire is the criterion of all truth and all good.
Truth does not lie beyond humanity, but is one of the products
of the human mind and feeling. There is really nothing to fear.
The motive of fear in religion is base, and must be left to the
ancient worshippers of power, worship of Moloch.

We do not worship power, in our enlightened souls. Power is
degenerated to money and Napoleonic stupidity.

Ursula could not help dreaming of Moloch. Her God was not
mild and gentle, neither Lamb nor Dove. He was the lion and the
eagle. Not because the lion and the eagle had power, but because
they were proud and strong; they were themselves, they were not
passive subjects of some shepherd, or pets of some loving woman,
or sacrifices of some priest. She was weary to death of mild,
passive lambs and monotonous doves. If the lamb might lie down
with the lion, it would be a great honour to the lamb, but the
lion's powerful heart would suffer no diminishing. She loved the
dignity and self-possession of lions.

She did not see how lambs could love. Lambs could only be
loved. They could only be afraid, and tremblingly submit to
fear, and become sacrificial; or they could submit to love, and
become beloveds. In both they were passive. Raging, destructive
lovers, seeking the moment when fear is greatest, and triumph is
greatest, the fear not greater than the triumph, the triumph not
greater than the fear, these were no lambs nor doves. She
stretched her own limbs like a lion or a wild horse, her heart
was relentless in its desires. It would suffer a thousand
deaths, but it would still be a lion's heart when it rose from
death, a fiercer lion she would be, a surer, knowing herself
different from and separate from the great, conflicting universe
that was not herself.

Winifred Inger was also interested in the Women's
Movement.

"The men will do no more,—they have lost the capacity
for doing," said the elder girl. "They fuss and talk, but they
are really inane. They make everything fit into an old, inert
idea. Love is a dead idea to them. They don't come to one and
love one, they come to an idea, and they say 'You are my idea,'
so they embrace themselves. As if I were any man's idea! As if I
exist because a man has an idea of me! As if I will be betrayed
by him, lend him my body as an instrument for his idea, to be a
mere apparatus of his dead theory. But they are too fussy to be
able to act; they are all impotent, they can't take a
woman. They come to their own idea every time, and take that.
They are like serpents trying to swallow themselves because they
are hungry."

Ursula was introduced by her friend to various women and men,
educated, unsatisfied people, who still moved within the smug
provincial society as if they were nearly as tame as their
outward behaviour showed, but who were inwardly raging and
mad.

It was a strange world the girl was swept into, like a chaos,
like the end of the world. She was too young to understand it
all. Yet the inoculation passed into her, through her love for
her mistress.

The examination came, and then school was over. It was the
long vacation. Winifred Inger went away to London. Ursula was
left alone in Cossethay. A terrible, outcast, almost poisonous
despair possessed her. It was no use doing anything, or being
anything. She had no connection with other people. Her lot was
isolated and deadly. There was nothing for her anywhere, but
this black disintegration. Yet, within all the great attack of
disintegration upon her, she remained herself. It was the
terrible core of all her suffering, that she was always herself.
Never could she escape that: she could not put off being
herself.

She still adhered to Winifred Inger. But a sort of nausea was
coming over her. She loved her mistress. But a heavy, clogged
sense of deadness began to gather upon her, from the other
woman's contact. And sometimes she thought Winifred was ugly,
clayey. Her female hips seemed big and earthy, her ankles and
her arms were too thick. She wanted some fine intensity, instead
of this heavy cleaving of moist clay, that cleaves because it
has no life of its own.

Winifred still loved Ursula. She had a passion for the fine
flame of the girl, she served her endlessly, would have done
anything for her.

"Come with me to London," she pleaded to the girl. "I will
make it nice for you,—you shall do lots of things you will
enjoy."

"No," said Ursula, stubbornly and dully. "No, I don't want to
go to London, I want to be by myself."

Winifred knew what this meant. She knew that Ursula was
beginning to reject her. The fine, unquenchable flame of the
younger girl would consent no more to mingle with the perverted
life of the elder woman. Winifred knew it would come. But she
too was proud. At the bottom of her was a black pit of despair.
She knew perfectly well that Ursula would cast her off.

And that seemed like the end of her life. But she was too
hopeless to rage. Wisely, economizing what was left of Ursula's
love, she went away to London, leaving the beloved girl
alone.

And after a fortnight, Ursula's letters became tender again,
loving. Her Uncle Tom had invited her to go and stay with him.
He was managing a big, new colliery in Yorkshire. Would Winifred
come too?

For now Ursula was imagining marriage for Winifred. She
wanted her to marry her Uncle Tom. Winifred knew this. She said
she would come to Wiggiston. She would now let fate do as it
liked with her, since there was nothing remaining to be done.
Tom Brangwen also saw Ursula's intention. He too was at the end
of his desires. He had done the things he had wanted to. They
had all ended in a disintegrated lifelessness of soul, which he
hid under an utterly tolerant good-humour. He no longer cared
about anything on earth, neither man nor woman, nor God nor
humanity. He had come to a stability of nullification. He did
not care any more, neither about his body nor about his soul.
Only he would preserve intact his own life. Only the simple,
superficial fact of living persisted. He was still healthy. He
lived. Therefore he would fill each moment. That had always been
his creed. It was not instinctive easiness: it was the
inevitable outcome of his nature. When he was in the absolute
privacy of his own life, he did as he pleased, unscrupulous,
without any ulterior thought. He believed neither in good nor
evil. Each moment was like a separate little island, isolated
from time, and blank, unconditioned by time.

He lived in a large new house of red brick, standing outside
a mass of homogeneous red-brick dwellings, called Wiggiston.
Wiggiston was only seven years old. It had been a hamlet of
eleven houses on the edge of healthy, half-agricultural country.
Then the great seam of coal had been opened. In a year Wiggiston
appeared, a great mass of pinkish rows of thin, unreal dwellings
of five rooms each. The streets were like visions of pure
ugliness; a grey-black macadamized road, asphalt causeways, held
in between a flat succession of wall, window, and door, a
new-brick channel that began nowhere, and ended nowhere.
Everything was amorphous, yet everything repeated itself
endlessly. Only now and then, in one of the house-windows
vegetables or small groceries were displayed for sale.

In the middle of the town was a large, open, shapeless space,
or market-place, of black trodden earth, surrounded by the same
flat material of dwellings, new red-brick becoming grimy, small
oblong windows, and oblong doors, repeated endlessly, with just,
at one corner, a great and gaudy public house, and somewhere
lost on one of the sides of the square, a large window opaque
and darkish green, which was the post office.

The place had the strange desolation of a ruin. Colliers
hanging about in gangs and groups, or passing along the asphalt
pavements heavily to work, seemed not like living people, but
like spectres. The rigidity of the blank streets, the
homogeneous amorphous sterility of the whole suggested death
rather than life. There was no meeting place, no centre, no
artery, no organic formation. There it lay, like the new
foundations of a red-brick confusion rapidly spreading, like a
skin-disease.

Just outside of this, on a little hill, was Tom Brangwen's
big, red-brick house. It looked from the front upon the edge of
the place, a meaningless squalor of ash-pits and closets and
irregular rows of the backs of houses, each with its small
activity made sordid by barren cohesion with the rest of the
small activities. Farther off was the great colliery that went
night and day. And all around was the country, green with two
winding streams, ragged with gorse, and heath, the darker woods
in the distance.

The whole place was just unreal, just unreal. Even now, when
he had been there for two years, Tom Brangwen did not believe in
the actuality of the place. It was like some gruesome dream,
some ugly, dead, amorphous mood become concrete.

Ursula and Winifred were met by the motor-car at the raw
little station, and drove through what seemed to them like the
horrible raw beginnings of something. The place was a moment of
chaos perpetuated, persisting, chaos fixed and rigid. Ursula was
fascinated by the many men who were there—groups of men
standing in the streets, four or five men walking in a gang
together, their dogs running behind or before. They were all
decently dressed, and most of them rather gaunt. The terrible
gaunt repose of their bearing fascinated her. Like creatures
with no more hope, but which still live and have passionate
being, within some utterly unliving shell, they passed
meaninglessly along, with strange, isolated dignity. It was as
if a hard, horny shell enclosed them all.

Shocked and startled, Ursula was carried to her Uncle Tom's
house. He was not yet at home. His house was simply, but well
furnished. He had taken out a dividing wall, and made the whole
front of the house into a large library, with one end devoted to
his science. It was a handsome room, appointed as a laboratory
and reading room, but giving the same sense of hard, mechanical
activity, activity mechanical yet inchoate, and looking out on
the hideous abstraction of the town, and at the green meadows
and rough country beyond, and at the great, mathematical
colliery on the other side.

They saw Tom Brangwen walking up the curved drive. He was
getting stouter, but with his bowler hat worn well set down on
his brows, he looked manly, handsome, curiously like any other
man of action. His colour was as fresh, his health as perfect as
ever, he walked like a man rather absorbed.

Winifred Inger was startled when he entered the library, his
coat fastened and correct, his head bald to the crown, but not
shiny, rather like something naked that one is accustomed to see
covered, and his dark eyes liquid and formless. He seemed to
stand in the shadow, like a thing ashamed. And the clasp of his
hand was so soft and yet so forceful, that it chilled the heart.
She was afraid of him, repelled by him, and yet attracted.

He looked at the athletic, seemingly fearless girl, and he
detected in her a kinship with his own dark corruption.
Immediately, he knew they were akin.

His manner was polite, almost foreign, and rather cold. He
still laughed in his curious, animal fashion, suddenly wrinkling
up his wide nose, and showing his sharp teeth. The fine beauty
of his skin and his complexion, some almost waxen quality, hid
the strange, repellent grossness of him, the slight sense of
putrescence, the commonness which revealed itself in his rather
fat thighs and loins.

Winifred saw at once the deferential, slightly servile,
slightly cunning regard he had for Ursula, which made the girl
at once so proud and so perplexed.

"But is this place as awful as it looks?" the young girl
asked, a strain in her eyes.

"It is just what it looks," he said. "It hides nothing."

"Why are the men so sad?"

"Are they sad?" he replied.

"They seem unutterably, unutterably sad," said Ursula, out of
a passionate throat.

"I don't think they are that. They just take it for
granted."

"What do they take for granted?"

"This—the pits and the place altogether."

"Why don't they alter it?" she passionately protested.

"They believe they must alter themselves to fit the pits and
the place, rather than alter the pits and the place to fit
themselves. It is easier," he said.

"And you agree with them," burst out his niece, unable to
bear it. "You think like they do—that living human beings
must be taken and adapted to all kinds of horrors. We could
easily do without the pits."

He smiled, uncomfortably, cynically. Ursula felt again the
revolt of hatred from him.

"I suppose their lives are not really so bad," said Winifred
Inger, superior to the Zolaesque tragedy.

He turned with his polite, distant attention.

"Yes, they are pretty bad. The pits are very deep, and hot,
and in some places wet. The men die of consumption fairly often.
But they earn good wages."

"How gruesome!" said Winifred Inger.

"Yes," he replied gravely. It was his grave, solid,
self-contained manner which made him so much respected as a
colliery manager.

The servant came in to ask where they would have tea.

"Put it in the summer-house, Mrs. Smith," he said.

The fair-haired, good-looking young woman went out.

"Is she married and in service?" asked Ursula.

"She is a widow. Her husband died of consumption a little
while ago." Brangwen gave a sinister little laugh. "He lay there
in the house-place at her mother's, and five or six other people
in the house, and died very gradually. I asked her if his death
wasn't a great trouble to her. 'Well,' she said, 'he was very
fretful towards the last, never satisfied, never easy, always
fret-fretting, an' never knowing what would satisfy him. So in
one way it was a relief when it was over—for him and for
everybody.' They had only been married two years, and she has
one boy. I asked her if she hadn't been very happy. 'Oh, yes,
sir, we was very comfortable at first, till he took
bad—oh, we was very comfortable—oh, yes—but,
you see, you get used to it. I've had my father and two brothers
go off just the same. You get used to it'."

"It's a horrible thing to get used to," said Winifred Inger,
with a shudder.

"Yes," he said, still smiling. "But that's how they are.
She'll be getting married again directly. One man or
another—it does not matter very much. They're all
colliers."

"What do you mean?" asked Ursula. "They're all colliers?"

"It is with the women as with us," he replied. "Her husband
was John Smith, loader. We reckoned him as a loader, he reckoned
himself as a loader, and so she knew he represented his job.
Marriage and home is a little side-show.

"The women know it right enough, and take it for what it's
worth. One man or another, it doesn't matter all the world. The
pit matters. Round the pit there will always be the sideshows,
plenty of 'em."

He looked round at the red chaos, the rigid, amorphous
confusion of Wiggiston.

"Every man his own little side-show, his home, but the pit
owns every man. The women have what is left. What's left of this
man, or what is left of that—it doesn't matter altogether.
The pit takes all that really matters."

"It is the same everywhere," burst out Winifred. "It is the
office, or the shop, or the business that gets the man, the
woman gets the bit the shop can't digest. What is he at home, a
man? He is a meaningless lump—a standing machine, a
machine out of work."

"They know they are sold," said Tom Brangwen. "That's where
it is. They know they are sold to their job. If a woman talks
her throat out, what difference can it make? The man's sold to
his job. So the women don't bother. They take what they can
catch—and vogue la galère."

"Aren't they very strict here?" asked Miss Inger.

"Oh, no. Mrs. Smith has two sisters who have just changed
husbands. They're not very particular—neither are they
very interested. They go dragging along what is left from the
pits. They're not interested enough to be very immoral—it
all amounts to the same thing, moral or immoral—just a
question of pit-wages. The most moral duke in England makes two
hundred thousand a year out of these pits. He keeps the morality
end up."

Ursula sat black-souled and very bitter, hearing the two of
them talk. There seemed something ghoulish even in their very
deploring of the state of things. They seemed to take a ghoulish
satisfaction in it. The pit was the great mistress. Ursula
looked out of the window and saw the proud, demonlike colliery
with her wheels twinkling in the heavens, the formless, squalid
mass of the town lying aside. It was the squalid heap of
side-shows. The pit was the main show, the raison d'etre
of all.

How terrible it was! There was a horrible fascination
in it—human bodies and lives subjected in slavery to that
symmetric monster of the colliery. There was a swooning,
perverse satisfaction in it. For a moment she was dizzy.

Then she recovered, felt herself in a great loneliness,
where-in she was sad but free. She had departed. No more would
she subscribe to the great colliery, to the great machine which
has taken us all captives. In her soul, she was against it, she
disowned even its power. It had only to be forsaken to be inane,
meaningless. And she knew it was meaningless. But it needed a
great, passionate effort of will on her part, seeing the
colliery, still to maintain her knowledge that it was
meaningless.

But her Uncle Tom and her mistress remained there among the
horde, cynically reviling the monstrous state and yet adhering
to it, like a man who reviles his mistress, yet who is in love
with her. She knew her Uncle Tom perceived what was going on.
But she knew moreover that in spite of his criticism and
condemnation, he still wanted the great machine. His only happy
moments, his only moments of pure freedom were when he was
serving the machine. Then, and then only, when the machine
caught him up, was he free from the hatred of himself, could he
act wholely, without cynicism and unreality.

His real mistress was the machine, and the real mistress of
Winifred was the machine. She too, Winifred, worshipped the
impure abstraction, the mechanisms of matter. There, there, in
the machine, in service of the machine, was she free from the
clog and degradation of human feeling. There, in the monstrous
mechanism that held all matter, living or dead, in its service,
did she achieve her consummation and her perfect unison, her
immortality.

Hatred sprang up in Ursula's heart. If she could she would
smash the machine. Her soul's action should be the smashing of
the great machine. If she could destroy the colliery, and make
all the men of Wiggiston out of work, she would do it. Let them
starve and grub in the earth for roots, rather than serve such a
Moloch as this.

She hated her Uncle Tom, she hated Winifred Inger. They went
down to the summer-house for tea. It was a pleasant place among
a few trees, at the end of a tiny garden, on the edge of a
field. Her Uncle Tom and Winifred seemed to jeer at her, to
cheapen her. She was miserable and desolate. But she would never
give way.

Her coldness for Winifred should never cease. She knew it was
over between them. She saw gross, ugly movements in her
mistress, she saw a clayey, inert, unquickened flesh, that
reminded her of the great prehistoric lizards. One day her Uncle
Tom came in out of the broiling sunshine heated from walking.
Then the perspiration stood out upon his head and brow, his hand
was wet and hot and suffocating in its clasp. He too had
something marshy about him—the succulent moistness and
turgidity, and the same brackish, nauseating effect of a marsh,
where life and decaying are one.

He was repellent to her, who was so dry and fine in her fire.
Her very bones seemed to bid him keep his distance from her.

It was in these weeks that Ursula grew up. She stayed two
weeks at Wiggiston, and she hated it. All was grey, dry ash,
cold and dead and ugly. But she stayed. She stayed also to get
rid of Winifred. The girl's hatred and her sense of
repulsiveness in her mistress and in her uncle seemed to throw
the other two together. They drew together as if against
her.

In hardness and bitterness of soul, Ursula knew that Winifred
was become her uncle's lover. She was glad. She had loved them
both. Now she wanted to be rid of them both. Their marshy,
bitter-sweet corruption came sick and unwholesome in her
nostrils. Anything, to get out of the foetid air. She would
leave them both for ever, leave for ever their strange, soft,
half-corrupt element. Anything to get away.

One night Winifred came all burning into Ursula's bed, and
put her arms round the girl, holding her to herself in spite of
unwillingness, and said,

"Dear, my dear—shall I marry Mr. Brangwen—shall
I?"

The clinging, heavy, muddy question weighed on Ursula
intolerably.

"Has he asked you?" she said, using all her might of hard
resistance.

"He's asked me," said Winifred. "Do you want me to marry him,
Ursula?"

"Yes," said Ursula.

The arms tightened more on her.

"I knew you did, my sweet—and I will marry him. You're
fond of him, aren't you?"

"I've been awfully fond of him—ever since I was
a child."

"I know—I know. I can see what you like in him. He is a
man by himself, he has something apart from the rest."

"Yes," said Ursula.

"But he's not like you, my dear—ha, he's not as good as
you. There's something even objectionable in him—his thick
thighs—"

Ursula was silent.

"But I'll marry him, my dear—it will be best. Now say
you love me."

A sort of profession was extorted out of the girl.
Nevertheless her mistress went away sighing, to weep in her own
chamber.

In two days' time Ursula left Wiggiston. Miss Inger went to
Nottingham. There was an engagement between her and Tom
Brangwen, which the uncle seemed to vaunt as if it were an
assurance of his validity.

Brangwen and Winifred Inger continued engaged for another
term. Then they married. Brangwen had reached the age when he
wanted children. He wanted children. Neither marriage nor the
domestic establishment meant anything to him. He wanted to
propagate himself. He knew what he was doing. He had the
instinct of a growing inertia, of a thing that chooses its place
of rest in which to lapse into apathy, complete, profound
indifference. He would let the machinery carry him; husband,
father, pit-manager, warm clay lifted through the recurrent
action of day after day by the great machine from which it
derived its motion. As for Winifred, she was an educated woman,
and of the same sort as himself. She would make a good
companion. She was his mate.







CHAPTER XIII

THE MAN'S WORLD

Ursula came back to Cossethay to fight with her mother. Her
schooldays were over. She had passed the matriculation
examination. Now she came home to face that empty period between
school and possible marriage.

At first she thought it would be just like holidays all the
time, she would feel just free. Her soul was in chaos, blinded
suffering, maimed. She had no will left to think about herself.
For a time she must just lapse.

But very shortly she found herself up against her mother. Her
mother had, at this time, the power to irritate and madden the
girl continuously. There were already seven children, yet Mrs.
Brangwen was again with child, the ninth she had borne. One had
died of diphtheria in infancy.

Even this fact of her mother's pregnancy enraged the eldest
girl. Mrs. Brangwen was so complacent, so utterly fulfilled in
her breeding. She would not have the existence at all of
anything but the immediate, physical, common things. Ursula
inflamed in soul, was suffering all the anguish of youth's
reaching for some unknown ordeal, that it can't grasp, can't
even distinguish or conceive. Maddened, she was fighting all the
darkness she was up against. And part of this darkness was her
mother. To limit, as her mother did, everything to the ring of
physical considerations, and complacently to reject the reality
of anything else, was horrible. Not a thing did Mrs. Brangwen
care about, but the children, the house, and a little local
gossip. And she would not be touched, she would let
nothing else live near her. She went about, big with child,
slovenly, easy, having a certain lax dignity, taking her own
time, pleasing herself, always, always doing things for the
children, and feeling that she thereby fulfilled the whole of
womanhood.

This long trance of complacent child-bearing had kept her
young and undeveloped. She was scarcely a day older than when
Gudrun was born. All these years nothing had happened save the
coming of the children, nothing had mattered but the bodies of
her babies. As her children came into consciousness, as they
began to suffer their own fulfilment, she cast them off. But she
remained dominant in the house. Brangwen continued in a kind of
rich drowse of physical heat, in connection with his wife. They
were neither of them quite personal, quite defined as
individuals, so much were they pervaded by the physical heat of
breeding and rearing their young.

How Ursula resented it, how she fought against the close,
physical, limited life of herded domesticity! Calm, placid,
unshakeable as ever, Mrs. Brangwen went about in her dominance
of physical maternity.

There were battles. Ursula would fight for things that
mattered to her. She would have the children less rude and
tyrannical, she would have a place in the house. But her
mother pulled her down, pulled her down. With all the cunning
instinct of a breeding animal, Mrs. Brangwen ridiculed and held
cheap Ursula's passions, her ideas, her pronunciations. Ursula
would try to insist, in her own home, on the right of women to
take equal place with men in the field of action and work.

"Ay," said the mother, "there's a good crop of stockings
lying ripe for mending. Let that be your field of action."

Ursula disliked mending stockings, and this retort maddened
her. She hated her mother bitterly. After a few weeks of
enforced domestic life, she had had enough of her home. The
commonness, the triviality, the immediate meaninglessness of it
all drove her to frenzy. She talked and stormed ideas, she
corrected and nagged at the children, she turned her back in
silent contempt on her breeding mother, who treated her with
supercilious indifference, as if she were a pretentious child
not to be taken seriously.

Brangwen was sometimes dragged into the trouble. He loved
Ursula, therefore he always had a sense of shame, almost of
betrayal, when he turned on her. So he turned fiercely and
scathingly, and with a wholesale brutality that made Ursula go
white, mute, and numb. Her feelings seemed to be becoming
deadened in her, her temper hard and cold.

Brangwen himself was in one of his states or flux. After all
these years, he began to see a loophole of freedom. For twenty
years he had gone on at this office as a draughtsman, doing work
in which he had no interest, because it seemed his allotted
work. The growing up of his daughters, their developing
rejection of old forms set him also free.

He was a man of ceaseless activity. Blindly, like a mole, he
pushed his way out of the earth that covered him, working always
away from the physical element in which his life was captured.
Slowly, blindly, gropingly, with what initiative was left to
him, he made his way towards individual expression and
individual form.

At last, after twenty years, he came back to his woodcarving,
almost to the point where he had left off his Adam and Eve
panel, when he was courting. But now he had knowledge and skill
without vision. He saw the puerility of his young conceptions,
he saw the unreal world in which they had been conceived. He now
had a new strength in his sense of reality. He felt as if he
were real, as if he handled real things. He had worked for many
years at Cossethay, building the organ for the church, restoring
the woodwork, gradually coming to a knowledge of beauty in the
plain labours. Now he wanted again to carve things that were
utterances of himself.

But he could not quite hitch on—always he was too busy,
too uncertain, confused. Wavering, he began to study modelling.
To his surprise he found he could do it. Modelling in clay, in
plaster, he produced beautiful reproductions, really beautiful.
Then he set-to to make a head of Ursula, in high relief, in the
Donatello manner. In his first passion, he got a beautiful
suggestion of his desire. But the pitch of concentration would
not come. With a little ash in his mouth he gave up. He
continued to copy, or to make designs by selecting motives from
classic stuff. He loved the Della Robbia and Donatello as he had
loved Fra Angelico when he was a young man. His work had some of
the freshness, the naive alertness of the early Italians. But it
was only reproduction.

Having reached his limit in modelling, he turned to painting.
But he tried water-colour painting after the manner of any other
amateur. He got his results but was not much interested. After
one or two drawings of his beloved church, which had the same
alertness as his modelling, he seemed to be incongruous with the
modern atmospheric way of painting, so that his church tower
stood up, really stood and asserted its standing, but was
ashamed of its own lack of meaning, he turned away again.

He took up jewellery, read Benvenuto Cellini, pored over
reproductions of ornament, and began to make pendants in silver
and pearl and matrix. The first things he did, in his start of
discovery, were really beautiful. Those later were more
imitative. But, starting with his wife, he made a pendant each
for all his womenfolk. Then he made rings and bracelets.

Then he took up beaten and chiselled metal work. When Ursula
left school, he was making a silver bowl of lovely shape. How he
delighted in it, almost lusted after it.

All this time his only connection with the real outer world
was through his winter evening classes, which brought him into
contact with state education. About all the rest, he was
oblivious, and entirely indifferent—even about the war.
The nation did not exist to him. He was in a private retreat of
his own, that had neither nationality, nor any great
adherent.

Ursula watched the newspapers, vaguely, concerning the war in
South Africa. They made her miserable, and she tried to have as
little to do with them as possible. But Skrebensky was out
there. He sent her an occasional post-card. But it was as if she
were a blank wall in his direction, without windows or outgoing.
She adhered to the Skrebensky of her memory.

Her love for Winifred Inger wrenched her life as it seemed
from the roots and native soil where Skrebensky had belonged to
it, and she was aridly transplanted. He was really only a
memory. She revived his memory with strange passion, after the
departure of Winifred. He was to her almost the symbol of her
real life. It was as if, through him, in him, she might return
to her own self, which she was before she had loved Winifred,
before this deadness had come upon her, this pitiless
transplanting. But even her memories were the work of her
imagination.

She dreamed of him and her as they had been together. She
could not dream of him progressively, of what he was doing now,
of what relation he would have to her now. Only sometimes she
wept to think how cruelly she had suffered when he left
her—ah, how she had suffered! She remembered what
she had written in her diary:

"If I were the moon, I know where I would fall down."

Ah, it was a dull agony to her to remember what she had been
then. For it was remembering a dead self. All that was dead
after Winifred. She knew the corpse of her young, loving self,
she knew its grave. And the young living self she mourned for
had scarcely existed, it was the creature of her
imagination.

Deep within her a cold despair remained unchanging and
unchanged. No one would ever love her now—she would love
no one. The body of love was killed in her after Winifred, there
was something of the corpse in her. She would live, she would go
on, but she would have no lovers, no lover would want her any
more. She herself would want no lover. The vividest little flame
of desire was extinct in her for ever. The tiny, vivid germ that
contained the bud of her real self, her real love, was killed,
she would go on growing as a plant, she would do her best to
produce her minor flowers, but her leading flower was dead
before it was born, all her growth was the conveying of a corpse
of hope.

The miserable weeks went on, in the poky house crammed with
children. What was her life—a sordid, formless,
disintegrated nothing; Ursula Brangwen a person without worth or
importance, living in the mean village of Cossethay, within the
sordid scope of Ilkeston. Ursula Brangwen, at seventeen,
worthless and unvalued, neither wanted nor needed by anybody,
and conscious herself of her own dead value. It would not bear
thinking of.

But still her dogged pride held its own. She might be
defiled, she might be a corpse that should never be loved, she
might be a core-rotten stalk living upon the food that others
provided; yet she would give in to nobody.

Gradually she became conscious that she could not go on
living at home as she was doing, without place or meaning or
worth. The very children that went to school held her
uselessness in contempt. She must do something.

Her father said she had plenty to do to help her mother. From
her parents she would never get more than a hit in the face. She
was not a practical person. She thought of wild things, of
running away and becoming a domestic servant, of asking some man
to take her.

She wrote to the mistress of the High School for advice.

"I cannot see very clearly what you should do, Ursula," came
the reply, "unless you are willing to become an elementary
school teacher. You have matriculated, and that qualifies you to
take a post as uncertificated teacher in any school, at a salary
of about fifty pounds a year.

"I cannot tell you how deeply I sympathize with you in your
desire to do something. You will learn that mankind is a great
body of which you are one useful member, you will take your own
place at the great task which humanity is trying to fulfil. That
will give you a satisfaction and a self-respect which nothing
else could give."

Ursula's heart sank. It was a cold, dreary satisfaction to
think of. Yet her cold will acquiesced. This was what she
wanted.

"You have an emotional nature," the letter went on, "a quick
natural response. If only you could learn patience and
self-discipline, I do not see why you should not make a good
teacher. The least you could do is to try. You need only serve a
year, or perhaps two years, as uncertificated teacher. Then you
would go to one of the training colleges, where I hope you would
take your degree. I most strongly urge and advise you to keep up
your studies always with the intention of taking a degree. That
will give you a qualification and a position in the world, and
will give you more scope to choose your own way.

"I shall be proud to see one of my girls win her own
economical independence, which means so much more than it seems.
I shall be glad indeed to know that one more of my girls has
provided for herself the means of freedom to choose for
herself."

It all sounded grim and desperate. Ursula rather hated it.
But her mother's contempt and her father's harshness had made
her raw at the quick, she knew the ignominy of being a
hanger-on, she felt the festering thorn of her mother's animal
estimation.

At length she had to speak. Hard and shut down and silent
within herself, she slipped out one evening to the workshed. She
heard the tap-tap-tap of the hammer upon the metal. Her father
lifted his head as the door opened. His face was ruddy and
bright with instinct, as when he was a youth, his black
moustache was cut close over his wide mouth, his black hair was
fine and close as ever. But there was about him an abstraction,
a sort of instrumental detachment from human things. He was a
worker. He watched his daughter's hard, expressionless face. A
hot anger came over his breast and belly.

"What now?" he said.

"Can't I," she answered, looking aside, not looking at him,
"can't I go out to work?"

"Go out to work, what for?"

His voice was so strong, and ready, and vibrant. It irritated
her.

"I want some other life than this."

A flash of strong rage arrested all his blood for a
moment.

"Some other life?" he repeated. "Why, what other life do you
want?"

She hesitated.

"Something else besides housework and hanging about. And I
want to earn something."

Her curious, brutal hardness of speech, and the fierce
invincibility of her youth, which ignored him, made him also
harden with anger.

"And how do you think you're going to earn anything?"
he asked.

"I can become a teacher—I'm qualified by my
matric."

He wished her matric. in hell.

"And how much are you qualified to earn by your matric.?" he
asked, jeering.

"Fifty pounds a year," she said.

He was silent, his power taken out of his hand.

He had always hugged a secret pride in the fact that his
daughters need not go out to work. With his wife's money and his
own they had four hundred a year. They could draw on the capital
if need be later on. He was not afraid for his old age. His
daughters might be ladies.

Fifty pounds a year was a pound a week—which was enough
for her to live on independently.

"And what sort of a teacher do you think you'd make? You
haven't the patience of a Jack-gnat with your own brothers and
sisters, let alone with a class of children. And I thought you
didn't like dirty, board-school brats."

"They're not all dirty."

"You'd find they're not all clean."

There was silence in the workshop. The lamplight fell on the
burned silver bowl that lay between him, on mallet and furnace
and chisel. Brangwen stood with a queer, catlike light on his
face, almost like a smile. But it was no smile.

"Can I try?" she said.

"You can do what the deuce you like, and go where you
like."

Her face was fixed and expressionless and indifferent. It
always sent him to a pitch of frenzy to see it like that. He
kept perfectly still.

Cold, without any betrayal of feeling, she turned and left
the shed. He worked on, with all his nerves jangled. Then he had
to put down his tools and go into the house.

In a bitter tone of anger and contempt he told his wife.
Ursula was present. There was a brief altercation, closed by
Mrs. Brangwen's saying, in a tone of biting superiority and
indifference:

"Let her find out what it's like. She'll soon have had
enough."

The matter was left there. But Ursula considered herself free
to act. For some days she made no move. She was reluctant to
take the cruel step of finding work, for she shrank with extreme
sensitiveness and shyness from new contact, new situations. Then
at length a sort of doggedness drove her. Her soul was full of
bitterness.

She went to the Free Library in Ilkeston, copied out
addresses from the Schoolmistress, and wrote for
application forms. After two days she rose early to meet the
postman. As she expected, there were three long envelopes.

Her heart beat painfully as she went up with them to her
bedroom. Her fingers trembled, she could hardly force herself to
look at the long, official forms she had to fill in. The whole
thing was so cruel, so impersonal. Yet it must be done.

"Name (surname first):..."

In a trembling hand she wrote, "Brangwen,—Ursula."

"Age and date of birth:..."

After a long time considering, she filled in that line.

"Qualifications, with date of Examination:..."

With a little pride she wrote:

"London Matriculation Examination."

"Previous experience and where obtained:..."

Her heart sank as she wrote:

"None."

Still there was much to answer. It took her two hours to fill
in the three forms. Then she had to copy her testimonials from
her head-mistress and from the clergyman.

At last, however, it was finished. She had sealed the three
long envelopes. In the afternoon she went down to Ilkeston to
post them. She said nothing of it all to her parents. As she
stamped her long letters and put them into the box at the main
post-office she felt as if already she was out of the reach of
her father and mother, as if she had connected herself with the
outer, greater world of activity, the man-made world.

As she returned home, she dreamed again in her own fashion
her old, gorgeous dreams. One of her applications was to
Gillingham, in Kent, one to Kingston-on-Thames, and one to
Swanwick in Derbyshire.

Gillingham was such a lovely name, and Kent was the Garden of
England. So that, in Gillingham, an old, old village by the
hopfields, where the sun shone softly, she came out of school in
the afternoon into the shadow of the plane trees by the gate,
and turned down the sleepy road towards the cottage where
cornflowers poked their blue heads through the old wooden fence,
and phlox stood built up of blossom beside the path.

A delicate, silver-haired lady rose with delicate, ivory
hands uplifted as Ursula entered the room, and:

"Oh, my dear, what do you think!"

"What is it, Mrs. Wetherall?"

Frederick had come home. Nay, his manly step was heard on the
stair, she saw his strong boots, his blue trousers, his
uniformed figure, and then his face, clean and keen as an
eagle's, and his eyes lit up with the glamour of strange seas,
ah, strange seas that had woven through his soul, as he
descended into the kitchen.

This dream, with its amplifications, lasted her a mile of
walking. Then she went to Kingston-on-Thames.

Kingston-on-Thames was an old historic place just south of
London. There lived the well-born dignified souls who belonged
to the metropolis, but who loved peace. There she met a
wonderful family of girls living in a large old Queen Anne
house, whose lawns sloped to the river, and in an atmosphere of
stately peace she found herself among her soul's intimates. They
loved her as sisters, they shared with her all noble
thoughts.

She was happy again. In her musings she spread her poor,
clipped wings, and flew into the pure empyrean.

Day followed day. She did not speak to her parents. Then came
the return of her testimonials from Gillingham. She was not
wanted, neither at Swanwick. The bitterness of rejection
followed the sweets of hope. Her bright feathers were in the
dust again.

Then, suddenly, after a fortnight, came an intimation from
Kingston-on-Thames. She was to appear at the Education Office of
that town on the following Thursday, for an interview with the
Committee. Her heart stood still. She knew she would make the
Committee accept her. Now she was afraid, now that her removal
was imminent. Her heart quivered with fear and reluctance. But
underneath her purpose was fixed.

She passed shadowily through the day, unwilling to tell her
news to her mother, waiting for her father. Suspense and fear
were strong upon her. She dreaded going to Kingston. Her easy
dreams disappeared from the grasp of reality.

And yet, as the afternoon wore away, the sweetness of the
dream returned again. Kingston-on-Thames—there was such
sound of dignity to her. The shadow of history and the glamour
of stately progress enveloped her. The palaces would be old and
darkened, the place of kings obscured. Yet it was a place of
kings for her—Richard and Henry and Wolsey and Queen
Elizabeth. She divined great lawns with noble trees, and
terraces whose steps the water washed softly, where the swans
sometimes came to earth. Still she must see the stately,
gorgeous barge of the Queen float down, the crimson carpet put
upon the landing stairs, the gentlemen in their purple-velvet
cloaks, bare-headed, standing in the sunshine grouped on either
side waiting.

"Sweet Thames, run softly till I end my song."

Evening came, her father returned home, sanguine and alert
and detached as ever. He was less real than her fancies. She
waited whilst he ate his tea. He took big mouthfuls, big bites,
and ate unconsciously with the same abandon an animal gives to
its food.

Immediately after tea he went over to the church. It was
choir-practice, and he wanted to try the tunes on his organ.

The latch of the big door clicked loudly as she came after
him, but the organ rolled more loudly still. He was unaware. He
was practicing the anthem. She saw his small, jet-black head and
alert face between the candle-flames, his slim body sagged on
the music-stool. His face was so luminous and fixed, the
movements of his limbs seemed strange, apart from him. The sound
of the organ seemed to belong to the very stone of the pillars,
like sap running in them.

Then there was a close of music and silence.

"Father!" she said.

He looked round as if at an apparition. Ursula stood
shadowily within the candle-light.

"What now?" he said, not coming to earth.

It was difficult to speak to him.

"I've got a situation," she said, forcing herself to
speak.

"You've got what?" he answered, unwilling to come out of his
mood of organ-playing. He closed the music before him.

"I've got a situation to go to."

Then he turned to her, still abstracted, unwilling.

"Oh, where's that?" he said.

"At Kingston-on-Thames. I must go on Thursday for an
interview with the Committee."

"You must go on Thursday?"

"Yes."

And she handed him the letter. He read it by the light of the
candles.

"Ursula Brangwen, Yew Tree Cottage, Cossethay,
Derbyshire.

"Dear Madam, You are requested to call at the above offices
on Thursday next, the 10th, at 11.30 a.m., for an interview with
the committee, referring to your application for the post of
assistant mistress at the Wellingborough Green Schools."

It was very difficult for Brangwen to take in this remote and
official information, glowing as he was within the quiet of his
church and his anthem music.

"Well, you needn't bother me with it now, need you?' he said
impatiently, giving her back the letter.

"I've got to go on Thursday," she said.

He sat motionless. Then he reached more music, and there was
a rushing sound of air, then a long, emphatic trumpet-note of
the organ, as he laid his hands on the keys. Ursula turned and
went away.

He tried to give himself again to the organ. But he could
not. He could not get back. All the time a sort of string was
tugging, tugging him elsewhere, miserably.

So that when he came into the house after choir-practice his
face was dark and his heart black. He said nothing however,
until all the younger children were in bed. Ursula, however,
knew what was brewing.

At length he asked:

"Where's that letter?"

She gave it to him. He sat looking at it. "You are requested
to call at the above offices on Thursday next——" It
was a cold, official notice to Ursula herself and had nothing to
do with him. So! She existed now as a separate social
individual. It was for her to answer this note, without regard
to him. He had even no right to interfere. His heart was hard
and angry.

"You had to do it behind our backs, had you?" he said, with a
sneer. And her heart leapt with hot pain. She knew she was
free—she had broken away from him. He was beaten.

"You said, 'let her try,'" she retorted, almost apologizing
to him.

He did not hear. He sat looking at the letter.

"Education Office, Kingston-on-Thames"—and then the
typewritten "Miss Ursula Brangwen, Yew Tree Cottage, Cossethay."
It was all so complete and so final. He could not but feel the
new position Ursula held, as recipient of that letter. It was an
iron in his soul.

"Well," he said at length, "you're not going."

Ursula started and could find no words to clamour her
revolt.

"If you think you're going dancin' off to th' other side of
London, you're mistaken."

"Why not?" she cried, at once hard fixed in her will to
go.

"That's why not," he said.

And there was silence till Mrs. Brangwen came downstairs.

"Look here, Anna," he said, handing her the letter.

She put back her head, seeing a typewritten letter,
anticipating trouble from the outside world. There was the
curious, sliding motion of her eyes, as if she shut off her
sentient, maternal self, and a kind of hard trance, meaningless,
took its place. Thus, meaningless, she glanced over the letter,
careful not to take it in. She apprehended the contents with her
callous, superficial mind. Her feeling self was shut down.

"What post is it?" she asked.

"She wants to go and be a teacher in Kingston-on-Thames, at
fifty pounds a year."

"Oh, indeed."

The mother spoke as if it were a hostile fact concerning some
stranger. She would have let her go, out of callousness. Mrs.
Brangwen would begin to grow up again only with her youngest
child. Her eldest girl was in the way now.

"She's not going all that distance," said the father.

"I have to go where they want me," cried Ursula. "And it's a
good place to go to."

"What do you know about the place?" said her father
harshly.

"And it doesn't matter whether they want you or not, if your
father says you are not to go," said the mother calmly.

How Ursula hated her!

"You said I was to try," the girl cried. "Now I've got a
place and I'm going to go."

"You're not going all that distance," said her father.

"Why don't you get a place at Ilkeston, where you can live at
home?" asked Gudrun, who hated conflicts, who could not
understand Ursula's uneasy way, yet who must stand by her
sister.

"There aren't any places in Ilkeston," cried Ursula. "And I'd
rather go right away."

"If you'd asked about it, a place could have been got for you
in Ilkeston. But you had to play Miss High-an'-mighty, and go
your own way," said her father.

"I've no doubt you'd rather go right away," said her mother,
very caustic. "And I've no doubt you'd find other people didn't
put up with you for very long either. You've too much opinion of
yourself for your good."

Between the girl and her mother was a feeling of pure hatred.
There came a stubborn silence. Ursula knew she must break
it.

"Well, they've written to me, and I s'll have to go," she
said.

"Where will you get the money from?" asked her father.

"Uncle Tom will give it me," she said.

Again there was silence. This time she was triumphant.

Then at length her father lifted his head. His face was
abstracted, he seemed to be abstracting himself, to make a pure
statement.

"Well, you're not going all that distance away," he said.
"I'll ask Mr. Burt about a place here. I'm not going to have you
by yourself at the other side of London."

"But I've got to go to Kingston," said Ursula.
"They've sent for me."

"They'll do without you," he said.

There was a trembling silence when she was on the point of
tears.

"Well," she said, low and tense, "you can put me off this,
but I'm going to have a place. I'm not going to
stop at home."

"Nobody wants you to stop at home," he suddenly shouted,
going livid with rage.

She said no more. Her nature had gone hard and smiling in its
own arrogance, in its own antagonistic indifference to the rest
of them. This was the state in which he wanted to kill her. She
went singing into the parlour.

C'est la mère Michel qui a perdu son chat,
Qui cri par la fenêtre qu'est-ce qui le lue renda——"

During the next days Ursula went about bright and hard,
singing to herself, making love to the children, but her soul
hard and cold with regard to her parents. Nothing more was said.
The hardness and brightness lasted for four days. Then it began
to break up. So at evening she said to her father:

"Have you spoken about a place for me?"

"I spoke to Mr. Burt."

"What did he say?"

"There's a committee meeting to-morrow. He'll tell me on
Friday."

So she waited till Friday. Kingston-on-Thames had been an
exciting dream. Here she could feel the hard, raw reality. So
she knew that this would come to pass. Because nothing was ever
fulfilled, she found, except in the hard limited reality. She
did not want to be a teacher in Ilkeston, because she knew
Ilkeston, and hated it. But she wanted to be free, so she must
take her freedom where she could.

On Friday her father said there was a place vacant in
Brinsley Street school. This could most probably be secured for
her, at once, without the trouble of application.

Her heart halted. Brinsley Street was a school in a poor
quarter, and she had had a taste of the common children of
Ilkeston. They had shouted after her and thrown stones. Still,
as a teacher, she would be in authority. And it was all unknown.
She was excited. The very forest of dry, sterile brick had some
fascination for her. It was so hard and ugly, so relentlessly
ugly, it would purge her of some of her floating
sentimentality.

She dreamed how she would make the little, ugly children love
her. She would be so personal. Teachers were always so
hard and impersonal. There was no vivid relationship. She would
make everything personal and vivid, she would give herself, she
would give, give, give all her great stores of wealth to her
children, she would make them so happy, and they would prefer
her to any teacher on the face of the earth.

At Christmas she would choose such fascinating Christmas
cards for them, and she would give them such a happy party in
one of the class-rooms.

The headmaster, Mr. Harby, was a short, thick-set, rather
common man, she thought. But she would hold before him the light
of grace and refinement, he would have her in such high esteem
before long. She would be the gleaming sun of the school, the
children would blossom like little weeds, the teachers like
tall, hard plants would burst into rare flower.

The Monday morning came. It was the end of September, and a
drizzle of fine rain like veils round her, making her seem
intimate, a world to herself. She walked forward to the new
land. The old was blotted out. The veil would be rent that hid
the new world. She was gripped hard with suspense as she went
down the hill in the rain, carrying her dinner-bag.

Through the thin rain she saw the town, a black, extensive
mount. She must enter in upon it. She felt at once a feeling of
repugnance and of excited fulfilment. But she shrank.

She waited at the terminus for the tram. Here it was
beginning. Before her was the station to Nottingham, whence
Theresa had gone to school half an hour before; behind her was
the little church school she had attended when she was a child,
when her grandmother was alive. Her grandmother had been dead
two years now. There was a strange woman at the Marsh, with her
Uncle Fred, and a small baby. Behind her was Cossethay, and
blackberries were ripe on the hedges.

As she waited at the tram-terminus she reverted swiftly to
her childhood; her teasing grandfather, with his fair beard and
blue eyes, and his big, monumental body; he had got drowned: her
grandmother, whom Ursula would sometimes say she had loved more
than anyone else in the world: the little church school, the
Phillips boys; one was a soldier in the Life Guards now, one was
a collier. With a passion she clung to the past.

But as she dreamed of it, she heard the tram-car grinding
round a bend, rumbling dully, she saw it draw into sight, and
hum nearer. It sidled round the loop at the terminus, and came
to a standstill, looming above her. Some shadowy grey people
stepped from the far end, the conductor was walking in the
puddles, swinging round the pole.

She mounted into the wet, comfortless tram, whose floor was
dark with wet, whose windows were all steamed, and she sat in
suspense. It had begun, her new existence.

One other passenger mounted—a sort of charwoman with a
drab, wet coat. Ursula could not bear the waiting of the tram.
The bell clanged, there was a lurch forward. The car moved
cautiously down the wet street. She was being carried forward,
into her new existence. Her heart burned with pain and suspense,
as if something were cutting her living tissue.

Often, oh often the tram seemed to stop, and wet, cloaked
people mounted and sat mute and grey in stiff rows opposite her,
their umbrellas between their knees. The windows of the tram
grew more steamy; opaque. She was shut in with these unliving,
spectral people. Even yet it did not occur to her that she was
one of them. The conductor came down issuing tickets. Each
little ring of his clipper sent a pang of dread through her. But
her ticket surely was different from the rest.

They were all going to work; she also was going to work. Her
ticket was the same. She sat trying to fit in with them. But
fear was at her bowels, she felt an unknown, terrible grip upon
her.

At Bath Street she must dismount and change trams. She looked
uphill. It seemed to lead to freedom. She remembered the many
Saturday afternoons she had walked up to the shops. How free and
careless she had been!

Ah, her tram was sliding gingerly downhill. She dreaded every
yard of her conveyance. The car halted, she mounted hastily.

She kept turning her head as the car ran on, because she was
uncertain of the street. At last, her heart a flame of suspense,
trembling, she rose. The conductor rang the bell brusquely.

She was walking down a small, mean, wet street, empty of
people. The school squatted low within its railed, asphalt yard,
that shone black with rain. The building was grimy, and
horrible, dry plants were shadowily looking through the
windows.

She entered the arched doorway of the porch. The whole place
seemed to have a threatening expression, imitating the church's
architecture, for the purpose of domineering, like a gesture of
vulgar authority. She saw that one pair of feet had paddled
across the flagstone floor of the porch. The place was silent,
deserted, like an empty prison waiting the return of tramping
feet.

Ursula went forward to the teachers' room that burrowed in a
gloomy hole. She knocked timidly.

"Come in!" called a surprised man's voice, as from a prison
cell. She entered the dark little room that never got any sun.
The gas was lighted naked and raw. At the table a thin man in
shirt-sleeves was rubbing a paper on a jellytray. He looked up
at Ursula with his narrow, sharp face, said "Good morning," then
turned away again, and stripped the paper off the tray, glancing
at the violet-coloured writing transferred, before he dropped
the curled sheet aside among a heap.

Ursula watched him fascinated. In the gaslight and gloom and
the narrowness of the room, all seemed unreal.

"Isn't it a nasty morning," she said.

"Yes," he said, "it's not much of weather."

But in here it seemed that neither morning nor weather really
existed. This place was timeless. He spoke in an occupied voice,
like an echo. Ursula did not know what to say. She took off her
waterproof.

"Am I early?" she asked.

The man looked first at a little clock, then at her. His eyes
seemed to be sharpened to needle-points of vision.

"Twenty-five past," he said. "You're the second to come. I'm
first this morning."

Ursula sat down gingerly on the edge of a chair, and watched
his thin red hands rubbing away on the white surface of the
paper, then pausing, pulling up a corner of the sheet, peering,
and rubbing away again. There was a great heap of curled
white-and-scribbled sheets on the table.

"Must you do so many?" asked Ursula.

Again the man glanced up sharply. He was about thirty or
thirty-three years old, thin, greenish, with a long nose and a
sharp face. His eyes were blue, and sharp as points of steel,
rather beautiful, the girl thought.

"Sixty-three," he answered.

"So many!" she said, gently. Then she remembered.

"But they're not all for your class, are they?" she
added.

"Why aren't they?" he replied, a fierceness in his voice.

Ursula was rather frightened by his mechanical ignoring of
her, and his directness of statement. It was something new to
her. She had never been treated like this before, as if she did
not count, as if she were addressing a machine.

"It is too many," she said sympathetically.

"You'll get about the same," he said.

That was all she received. She sat rather blank, not knowing
how to feel. Still she liked him. He seemed so cross. There was
a queer, sharp, keen-edge feeling about him that attracted her
and frightened her at the same time. It was so cold, and against
his nature.

The door opened, and a short, neutral-tinted young woman of
about twenty-eight appeared.

"Oh, Ursula!" the newcomer exclaimed. "You are here early! My
word, I'll warrant you don't keep it up. That's Mr. Williamson's
peg. This is yours. Standard Five teacher always has this.
Aren't you going to take your hat off?"

Miss Violet Harby removed Ursula's waterproof from the peg on
which it was hung, to one a little farther down the row. She had
already snatched the pins from her own stuff hat, and jammed
them through her coat. She turned to Ursula, as she pushed up
her frizzed, flat, dun-coloured hair.

"Isn't it a beastly morning," she exclaimed, "beastly! And if
there's one thing I hate above another it's a wet Monday
morning;—pack of kids trailing in anyhow-nohow, and no
holding 'em——"

She had taken a black pinafore from a newspaper package, and
was tying it round her waist.

"You've brought an apron, haven't you?" she said jerkily,
glancing at Ursula. "Oh—you'll want one. You've no idea
what a sight you'll look before half-past four, what with chalk
and ink and kids' dirty feet.—Well, I can send a boy down
to mamma's for one."

"Oh, it doesn't matter," said Ursula.

"Oh, yes—I can send easily," cried Miss Harby.

Ursula's heart sank. Everybody seemed so cocksure and so
bossy. How was she going to get on with such jolty, jerky, bossy
people? And Miss Harby had not spoken a word to the man at the
table. She simply ignored him. Ursula felt the callous crude
rudeness between the two teachers.

The two girls went out into the passage. A few children were
already clattering in the porch.

"Jim Richards," called Miss Harby, hard and authoritative. A
boy came sheepishly forward.

"Shall you go down to our house for me, eh?" said Miss Harby,
in a commanding, condescending, coaxing voice. She did not wait
for an answer. "Go down and ask mamma to send me one of my
school pinas, for Miss Brangwen—shall you?"

The boy muttered a sheepish "Yes, miss," and was moving
away.

"Hey," called Miss Harby. "Come here—now what are you
going for? What shall you say to mamma?"

"A school pina——" muttered the boy.

"'Please, Mrs. Harby, Miss Harby says will you send her
another school pinafore for Miss Brangwen, because she's come
without one.'"

"Yes, miss," muttered the boy, head ducked, and was moving
off. Miss Harby caught him back, holding him by the
shoulder.

"What are you going to say?"

"Please, Mrs. Harby, Miss Harby wants a pinny for Miss
Brangwin," muttered the boy very sheepishly.

"Miss Brangwen!" laughed Miss Harby, pushing him away. "Here,
you'd better have my umbrella—wait a minute."

The unwilling boy was rigged up with Miss Harby's umbrella,
and set off.

"Don't take long over it," called Miss Harby, after him. Then
she turned to Ursula, and said brightly:

"Oh, he's a caution, that lad—but not bad, you
know."

"No," Ursula agreed, weakly.

The latch of the door clicked, and they entered the big room.
Ursula glanced down the place. Its rigid, long silence was
official and chilling. Half-way down was a glass partition, the
doors of which were open. A clock ticked re-echoing, and Miss
Harby's voice sounded double as she said:

"This is the big room—Standard
Five-Six-and-Seven.—Here's your
place—Five——"

She stood in the near end of the great room. There was a
small high teacher's desk facing a squadron of long benches, two
high windows in the wall opposite.

It was fascinating and horrible to Ursula. The curious,
unliving light in the room changed her character. She thought it
was the rainy morning. Then she looked up again, because of the
horrid feeling of being shut in a rigid, inflexible air, away
from all feeling of the ordinary day; and she noticed that the
windows were of ribbed, suffused glass.

The prison was round her now! She looked at the walls, colour
washed, pale green and chocolate, at the large windows with
frowsy geraniums against the pale glass, at the long rows of
desks, arranged in a squadron, and dread filled her. This was a
new world, a new life, with which she was threatened. But still
excited, she climbed into her chair at her teacher's desk. It
was high, and her feet could not reach the ground, but must rest
on the step. Lifted up there, off the ground, she was in office.
How queer, how queer it all was! How different it was from the
mist of rain blowing over Cossethay. As she thought of her own
village, a spasm of yearning crossed her, it seemed so far off,
so lost to her.

She was here in this hard, stark reality—reality. It
was queer that she should call this the reality, which she had
never known till to-day, and which now so filled her with dread
and dislike, that she wished she might go away. This was the
reality, and Cossethay, her beloved, beautiful, wellknown
Cossethay, which was as herself unto her, that was minor
reality. This prison of a school was reality. Here, then, she
would sit in state, the queen of scholars! Here she would
realize her dream of being the beloved teacher bringing light
and joy to her children! But the desks before her had an
abstract angularity that bruised her sentiment and made her
shrink. She winced, feeling she had been a fool in her
anticipations. She had brought her feelings and her generosity
to where neither generosity nor emotion were wanted. And already
she felt rebuffed, troubled by the new atmosphere, out of
place.

She slid down, and they returned to the teacher's room. It
was queer to feel that one ought to alter one's personality. She
was nobody, there was no reality in herself, the reality was all
outside of her, and she must apply herself to it.

Mr. Harby was in the teachers' room, standing before a big,
open cupboard, in which Ursula could see piles of pink
blotting-paper, heaps of shiny new books, boxes of chalk, and
bottles of coloured inks. It looked a treasure store.

The schoolmaster was a short, sturdy man, with a fine head,
and a heavy jowl. Nevertheless he was good-looking, with his
shapely brows and nose, and his great, hanging moustache. He
seemed absorbed in his work, and took no notice of Ursula's
entry. There was something insulting in the way he could be so
actively unaware of another person, so occupied.

When he had a moment of absence, he looked up from the table
and said good-morning to Ursula. There was a pleasant light in
his brown eyes. He seemed very manly and incontrovertible, like
something she wanted to push over.

"You had a wet walk," he said to Ursula.

"Oh, I don't mind, I'm used to it," she replied, with a
nervous little laugh.

But already he was not listening. Her words sounded
ridiculous and babbling. He was taking no notice of her.

"You will sign your name here," he said to her, as if she
were some child—"and the time when you come and go."

Ursula signed her name in the time book and stood back. No
one took any further notice of her. She beat her brains for
something to say, but in vain.

"I'd let them in now," said Mr. Harby to the thin man, who
was very hastily arranging his papers.

The assistant teacher made no sign of acquiescence, and went
on with what he was doing. The atmosphere in the room grew
tense. At the last moment Mr. Brunt slipped into his coat.

"You will go to the girls' lobby," said the schoolmaster to
Ursula, with a fascinating, insulting geniality, purely official
and domineering.

She went out and found Miss Harby, and another girl teacher,
in the porch. On the asphalt yard the rain was falling. A
toneless bell tang-tang-tanged drearily overhead, monotonously,
insistently. It came to an end. Then Mr. Brunt was seen,
bare-headed, standing at the other gate of the school yard,
blowing shrill blasts on a whistle and looking down the rainy,
dreary street.

Boys in gangs and streams came trotting up, running past the
master and with a loud clatter of feet and voices, over the yard
to the boys' porch. Girls were running and walking through the
other entrance.

In the porch where Ursula stood there was a great noise of
girls, who were tearing off their coats and hats, and hanging
them on the racks bristling with pegs. There was a smell of wet
clothing, a tossing out of wet, draggled hair, a noise of voices
and feet.

The mass of girls grew greater, the rage around the pegs grew
steadier, the scholars tended to fall into little noisy gangs in
the porch. Then Violet Harby clapped her hands, clapped them
louder, with a shrill "Quiet, girls, quiet!"

There was a pause. The hubbub died down but did not
cease.

"What did I say?" cried Miss Harby, shrilly.

There was almost complete silence. Sometimes a girl, rather
late, whirled into the porch and flung off her things.

"Leaders—in place," commanded Miss Harby shrilly.

Pairs of girls in pinafores and long hair stood separate in
the porch.

"Standard Four, Five, and Six—fall in," cried Miss
Harby.

There was a hubbub, which gradually resolved itself into
three columns of girls, two and two, standing smirking in the
passage. In among the peg-racks, other teachers were putting the
lower classes into ranks.

Ursula stood by her own Standard Five. They were jerking
their shoulders, tossing their hair, nudging, writhing, staring,
grinning, whispering and twisting.

A sharp whistle was heard, and Standard Six, the biggest
girls, set off, led by Miss Harby. Ursula, with her Standard
Five, followed after. She stood beside a smirking, grinning row
of girls, waiting in a narrow passage. What she was herself she
did not know.

Suddenly the sound of a piano was heard, and Standard Six set
off hollowly down the big room. The boys had entered by another
door. The piano played on, a march tune, Standard Five followed
to the door of the big room. Mr. Harby was seen away beyond at
his desk. Mr. Brunt guarded the other door of the room. Ursula's
class pushed up. She stood near them. They glanced and smirked
and shoved.

"Go on," said Ursula.

They tittered.

"Go on," said Ursula, for the piano continued.

The girls broke loosely into the room. Mr. Harby, who had
seemed immersed in some occupation, away at his desk, lifted his
head and thundered:

"Halt!"

There was a halt, the piano stopped. The boys who were just
starting through the other door, pushed back. The harsh, subdued
voice of Mr. Brunt was heard, then the booming shout of Mr.
Harby, from far down the room:

"Who told Standard Five girls to come in like that?"

Ursula crimsoned. Her girls were glancing up at her, smirking
their accusation.

"I sent them in, Mr. Harby," she said, in a clear, struggling
voice. There was a moment of silence. Then Mr. Harby roared from
the distance.

"Go back to your places, Standard Five girls."

The girls glanced up at Ursula, accusing, rather jeering,
fugitive. They pushed back. Ursula's heart hardened with
ignominious pain.

"Forward—march," came Mr. Brunt's voice, and the girls
set off, keeping time with the ranks of boys.

Ursula faced her class, some fifty-five boys and girls, who
stood filling the ranks of the desks. She felt utterly
nonexistent. She had no place nor being there. She faced the
block of children.

Down the room she heard the rapid firing of questions. She
stood before her class not knowing what to do. She waited
painfully. Her block of children, fifty unknown faces, watched
her, hostile, ready to jeer. She felt as if she were in torture
over a fire of faces. And on every side she was naked to them.
Of unutterable length and torture the seconds went by.

Then she gathered courage. She heard Mr. Brunt asking
questions in mental arithmetic. She stood near to her class, so
that her voice need not be raised too much, and faltering,
uncertain, she said:

"Seven hats at twopence ha'penny each?"

A grin went over the faces of the class, seeing her commence.
She was red and suffering. Then some hands shot up like blades,
and she asked for the answer.

The day passed incredibly slowly. She never knew what to do,
there came horrible gaps, when she was merely exposed to the
children; and when, relying on some pert little girl for
information, she had started a lesson, she did not know how to
go on with it properly. The children were her masters. She
deferred to them. She could always hear Mr. Brunt. Like a
machine, always in the same hard, high, inhuman voice he went on
with his teaching, oblivious of everything. And before this
inhuman number of children she was always at bay. She could not
get away from it. There it was, this class of fifty collective
children, depending on her for command, for command it hated and
resented. It made her feel she could not breathe: she must
suffocate, it was so inhuman. They were so many, that they were
not children. They were a squadron. She could not speak as she
would to a child, because they were not individual children,
they were a collective, inhuman thing.

Dinner-time came, and stunned, bewildered, solitary, she went
into the teachers' room for dinner. Never had she felt such a
stranger to life before. It seemed to her she had just
disembarked from some strange horrible state where everything
was as in hell, a condition of hard, malevolent system. And she
was not really free. The afternoon drew at her like some
bondage.

The first week passed in a blind confusion. She did not know
how to teach, and she felt she never would know. Mr. Harby came
down every now and then to her class, to see what she was doing.
She felt so incompetent as he stood by, bullying and
threatening, so unreal, that she wavered, became neutral and
non-existent. But he stood there watching with the
listening-genial smile of the eyes, that was really threatening;
he said nothing, he made her go on teaching, she felt she had no
soul in her body. Then he went away, and his going was like a
derision. The class was his class. She was a wavering
substitute. He thrashed and bullied, he was hated. But he was
master. Though she was gentle and always considerate of her
class, yet they belonged to Mr. Harby, and they did not belong
to her. Like some invincible source of the mechanism he kept all
power to himself. And the class owned his power. And in school
it was power, and power alone that mattered.

Soon Ursula came to dread him, and at the bottom of her dread
was a seed of hate, for she despised him, yet he was master of
her. Then she began to get on. All the other teachers hated him,
and fanned their hatred among themselves. For he was master of
them and the children, he stood like a wheel to make absolute
his authority over the herd. That seemed to be his one reason in
life, to hold blind authority over the school. His teachers were
his subjects as much as the scholars. Only, because they had
some authority, his instinct was to detest them.

Ursula could not make herself a favourite with him. From the
first moment she set hard against him. She set against Violet
Harby also. Mr. Harby was, however, too much for her, he was
something she could not come to grips with, something too strong
for her. She tried to approach him as a young, bright girl
usually approaches a man, expecting a little chivalrous
courtesy. But the fact that she was a girl, a woman, was ignored
or used as a matter for contempt against her. She did not know
what she was, nor what she must be. She wanted to remain her own
responsive, personal self.

So she taught on. She made friends with the Standard Three
teacher, Maggie Schofield. Miss Schofield was about twenty years
old, a subdued girl who held aloof from the other teachers. She
was rather beautiful, meditative, and seemed to live in another,
lovelier world.

Ursula took her dinner to school, and during the second week
ate it in Miss Schofield's room. Standard Three classroom stood
by itself and had windows on two sides, looking on to the
playground. It was a passionate relief to find such a retreat in
the jarring school. For there were pots of chrysanthemums and
coloured leaves, and a big jar of berries: there were pretty
little pictures on the wall, photogravure reproductions from
Greuze, and Reynolds's "Age of Innocence", giving an air of
intimacy; so that the room, with its window space, its smaller,
tidier desks, its touch of pictures and flowers, made Ursula at
once glad. Here at last was a little personal touch, to which
she could respond.

It was Monday. She had been at school a week and was getting
used to the surroundings, though she was still an entire
foreigner in herself. She looked forward to having dinner with
Maggie. That was the bright spot in the day. Maggie was so
strong and remote, walking with slow, sure steps down a hard
road, carrying the dream within her. Ursula went through the
class teaching as through a meaningless daze.

Her class tumbled out at midday in haphazard fashion. She did
not realize what host she was gathering against herself by her
superior tolerance, her kindness and her laisseraller. They were
gone, and she was rid of them, and that was all. She hurried
away to the teachers' room.

Mr. Brunt was crouching at the small stove, putting a little
rice pudding into the oven. He rose then, and attentively poked
in a small saucepan on the hob with a fork. Then he replaced the
saucepan lid.

"Aren't they done?" asked Ursula gaily, breaking in on his
tense absorption.

She always kept a bright, blithe manner, and was pleasant to
all the teachers. For she felt like the swan among the geese, of
superior heritage and belonging. And her pride at being the swan
in this ugly school was not yet abated.

"Not yet," replied Mr. Brunt, laconic.

"I wonder if my dish is hot," she said, bending down at the
oven. She half expected him to look for her, but he took no
notice. She was hungry and she poked her finger eagerly in the
pot to see if her brussels sprouts and potatoes and meat were
ready. They were not.

"Don't you think it's rather jolly bringing dinner?" she said
to Mr. Brunt.

"I don't know as I do," he said, spreading a serviette on a
corner of the table, and not looking at her.

"I suppose it is too far for you to go home?"

"Yes," he said. Then he rose and looked at her. He had the
bluest, fiercest, most pointed eyes that she had ever met. He
stared at her with growing fierceness.

"If I were you, Miss Brangwen," he said, menacingly, "I
should get a bit tighter hand over my class."

Ursula shrank.

"Would you?" she asked, sweetly, yet in terror. "Aren't I
strict enough?"

"Because," he repeated, taking no notice of her, "they'll get
you down if you don't tackle 'em pretty quick. They'll pull you
down, and worry you, till Harby gets you shifted—that's
how it'll be. You won't be here another six weeks"—and he
filled his mouth with food—"if you don't tackle 'em and
tackle 'em quick."

"Oh, but——" Ursula said, resentfully, ruefully.
The terror was deep in her.

"Harby'll not help you. This is what he'll do—he'll let
you go on, getting worse and worse, till either you clear out or
he clears you out. It doesn't matter to me, except that you'll
leave a class behind you as I hope I shan't have to cope
with."

She heard the accusation in the man's voice, and felt
condemned. But still, school had not yet become a definite
reality to her. She was shirking it. It was reality, but it was
all outside her. And she fought against Mr. Brunt's
representation. She did not want to realize.

"Will it be so terrible?" she said, quivering, rather
beautiful, but with a slight touch of condescension, because she
would not betray her own trepidation.

"Terrible?" said the man, turning to his potatoes again. "I
dunno about terrible."

"I do feel frightened," said Ursula. "The children seem
so——"

"What?" said Miss Harby, entering at that moment.

"Why," said Ursula, "Mr. Brunt says I ought to tackle my
class," and she laughed uneasily.

"Oh, you have to keep order if you want to teach," said Miss
Harby, hard, superior, trite.

Ursula did not answer. She felt non valid before them.

"If you want to be let to live, you have," said Mr.
Brunt.

"Well, if you can't keep order, what good are you?" said Miss
Harby.

"An' you've got to do it by yourself,"—his voice rose
like the bitter cry of the prophets. "You'll get no help
from anybody."

"Oh, indeed!" said Miss Harby. "Some people can't be helped."
And she departed.

The air of hostility and disintegration, of wills working in
antagonistic subordination, was hideous. Mr. Brunt, subordinate,
afraid, acid with shame, frightened her. Ursula wanted to run.
She only wanted to clear out, not to understand.

Then Miss Schofield came in, and with her another, more
restful note. Ursula at once turned for confirmation to the
newcomer. Maggie remained personal within all this unclean
system of authority.

"Is the big Anderson here?" she asked of Mr. Brunt. And they
spoke of some affair about two scholars, coldly, officially.

Miss Schofield took her brown dish, and Ursula followed with
her own. The cloth was laid in the pleasant Standard Three room,
there was a jar with two or three monthly roses on the
table.

"It is so nice in here, you have made it different,"
said Ursula gaily. But she was afraid. The atmosphere of the
school was upon her.

"The big room," said Miss Schofield, "ha, it's misery to be
in it!"

She too spoke with bitterness. She too lived in the
ignominious position of an upper servant hated by the master
above and the class beneath. She was, she knew, liable to attack
from either side at any minute, or from both at once, for the
authorities would listen to the complaints of parents, and both
would turn round on the mongrel authority, the teacher.

So there was a hard, bitter withholding in Maggie Schofield
even as she poured out her savoury mess of big golden beans and
brown gravy.

"It is vegetarian hot-pot," said Miss Schofield. "Would you
like to try it?"

"I should love to," said Ursula.

Her own dinner seemed coarse and ugly beside this savoury,
clean dish.

"I've never eaten vegetarian things," she said. "But I should
think they can be good."

"I'm not really a vegetarian," said Maggie, "I don't like to
bring meat to school."

"No," said Ursula, "I don't think I do either."

And again her soul rang an answer to a new refinement, a new
liberty. If all vegetarian things were as nice as this, she
would be glad to escape the slight uncleanness of meat.

"How good!" she cried.

"Yes," said Miss Schofield, and she proceeded to tell her the
receipt. The two girls passed on to talk about themselves.
Ursula told all about the High School, and about her
matriculation, bragging a little. She felt so poor here, in this
ugly place. Miss Schofield listened with brooding, handsome
face, rather gloomy.

"Couldn't you have got to some better place than this?" she
asked at length.

"I didn't know what it was like," said Ursula,
doubtfully.

"Ah!" said Miss Schofield, and she turned aside her head with
a bitter motion.

"Is it as horrid as it seems?" asked Ursula, frowning
lightly, in fear.

"It is," said Miss Schofield, bitterly. "Ha!—it is
hateful!"

Ursula's heart sank, seeing even Miss Schofield in the deadly
bondage.

"It is Mr. Harby," said Maggie Schofield, breaking forth.

"I don't think I could live again in the big
room—Mr. Brunt's voice and Mr.
Harby—ah——"

She turned aside her head with a deep hurt. Some things she
could not bear.

"Is Mr. Harby really horrid?" asked Ursula, venturing into
her own dread.

"He!—why, he's just a bully," said Miss Schofield,
raising her shamed dark eyes, that flamed with tortured
contempt. "He's not bad as long as you keep in with him, and
refer to him, and do everything in his way—but—it's
all so mean! It's just a question of fighting on both
sides—and those great louts——"

She spoke with difficulty and with increased bitterness. She
had evidently suffered. Her soul was raw with ignominy. Ursula
suffered in response.

"But why is it so horrid?" she asked, helplessly.

"You can't do anything," said Miss Schofield. "He's
against you on one side and he sets the children against you on
the other. The children are simply awful. You've got to
make them do everything. Everything, everything has got
to come out of you. Whatever they learn, you've got to force it
into them—and that's how it is."

Ursula felt her heart fail inside her. Why must she grasp all
this, why must she force learning on fifty-five reluctant
children, having all the time an ugly, rude jealousy behind her,
ready to throw her to the mercy of the herd of children, who
would like to rend her as a weaker representative of authority.
A great dread of her task possessed her. She saw Mr. Brunt, Miss
Harby, Miss Schofield, all the school-teachers, drudging
unwillingly at the graceless task of compelling many children
into one disciplined, mechanical set, reducing the whole set to
an automatic state of obedience and attention, and then of
commanding their acceptance of various pieces of knowledge. The
first great task was to reduce sixty children to one state of
mind, or being. This state must be produced automatically,
through the will of the teacher, and the will of the whole
school authority, imposed upon the will of the children. The
point was that the headmaster and the teachers should have one
will in authority, which should bring the will of the children
into accord. But the headmaster was narrow and exclusive. The
will of the teachers could not agree with his, their separate
wills refused to be so subordinated. So there was a state of
anarchy, leaving the final judgment to the children themselves,
which authority should exist.

So there existed a set of separate wills, each straining
itself to the utmost to exert its own authority. Children will
never naturally acquiesce to sitting in a class and submitting
to knowledge. They must be compelled by a stronger, wiser will.
Against which will they must always strive to revolt. So that
the first great effort of every teacher of a large class must be
to bring the will of the children into accordance with his own
will. And this he can only do by an abnegation of his personal
self, and an application of a system of laws, for the purpose of
achieving a certain calculable result, the imparting of certain
knowledge. Whereas Ursula thought she was going to become the
first wise teacher by making the whole business personal, and
using no compulsion. She believed entirely in her own
personality.

So that she was in a very deep mess. In the first place she
was offering to a class a relationship which only one or two of
the children were sensitive enough to appreciate, so that the
mass were left outsiders, therefore against her. Secondly, she
was placing herself in passive antagonism to the one fixed
authority of Mr. Harby, so that the scholars could more safely
harry her. She did not know, but her instinct gradually warned
her. She was tortured by the voice of Mr. Brunt. On it went,
jarring, harsh, full of hate, but so monotonous, it nearly drove
her mad: always the same set, harsh monotony. The man was become
a mechanism working on and on and on. But the personal man was
in subdued friction all the time. It was horrible—all
hate! Must she be like this? She could feel the ghastly
necessity. She must become the same—put away the personal
self, become an instrument, an abstraction, working upon a
certain material, the class, to achieve a set purpose of making
them know so much each day. And she could not submit. Yet
gradually she felt the invincible iron closing upon her. The sun
was being blocked out. Often when she went out at playtime and
saw a luminous blue sky with changing clouds, it seemed just a
fantasy, like a piece of painted scenery. Her heart was so black
and tangled in the teaching, her personal self was shut in
prison, abolished, she was subjugate to a bad, destructive will.
How then could the sky be shining? There was no sky, there was
no luminous atmosphere of out-of-doors. Only the inside of the
school was real—hard, concrete, real and vicious.

She would not yet, however, let school quite overcome her.
She always said. "It is not a permanency, it will come to an
end." She could always see herself beyond the place, see the
time when she had left it. On Sundays and on holidays, when she
was away at Cossethay or in the woods where the beech-leaves
were fallen, she could think of St. Philip's Church School, and
by an effort of will put it in the picture as a dirty little
low-squatting building that made a very tiny mound under the
sky, while the great beech-woods spread immense about her, and
the afternoon was spacious and wonderful. Moreover the children,
the scholars, they were insignificant little objects far away,
oh, far away. And what power had they over her free soul? A
fleeting thought of them, as she kicked her way through the
beech-leaves, and they were gone. But her will was tense against
them all the time.

All the while, they pursued her. She had never had such a
passionate love of the beautiful things about her. Sitting on
top of the tram-car, at evening, sometimes school was swept away
as she saw a magnificent sky settling down. And her breast, her
very hands, clamoured for the lovely flare of sunset. It was
poignant almost to agony, her reaching for it. She almost cried
aloud seeing the sundown so lovely.

For she was held away. It was no matter how she said to
herself that school existed no more once she had left it. It
existed. It was within her like a dark weight, controlling her
movement. It was in vain the high-spirited, proud young girl
flung off the school and its association with her. She was Miss
Brangwen, she was Standard Five teacher, she had her most
important being in her work now.

Constantly haunting her, like a darkness hovering over her
heart and threatening to swoop down over it at every moment, was
the sense that somehow, somehow she was brought down. Bitterly
she denied unto herself that she was really a schoolteacher.
Leave that to the Violet Harbys. She herself would stand clear
of the accusation. It was in vain she denied it.

Within herself some recording hand seemed to point
mechanically to a negation. She was incapable of fulfilling her
task. She could never for a moment escape from the fatal weight
of the knowledge.

And so she felt inferior to Violet Harby. Miss Harby was a
splendid teacher. She could keep order and inflict knowledge on
a class with remarkable efficiency. It was no good Ursula's
protesting to herself that she was infinitely, infinitely the
superior of Violet Harby. She knew that Violet Harby succeeded
where she failed, and this in a task which was almost a test of
her. She felt something all the time wearing upon her, wearing
her down. She went about in these first weeks trying to deny it,
to say she was free as ever. She tried not to feel at a
disadvantage before Miss Harby, tried to keep up the effect of
her own superiority. But a great weight was on her, which Violet
Harby could bear, and she herself could not.

Though she did not give in, she never succeeded. Her class
was getting in worse condition, she knew herself less and less
secure in teaching it. Ought she to withdraw and go home again?
Ought she to say she had come to the wrong place, and so retire?
Her very life was at test.

She went on doggedly, blindly, waiting for a crisis. Mr.
Harby had now begun to persecute her. Her dread and hatred of
him grew and loomed larger and larger. She was afraid he was
going to bully her and destroy her. He began to persecute her
because she could not keep her class in proper condition,
because her class was the weak link in the chain which made up
the school.

One of the offences was that her class was noisy and
disturbed Mr. Harby, as he took Standard Seven at the other end
of the room. She was taking composition on a certain morning,
walking in among the scholars. Some of the boys had dirty ears
and necks, their clothing smelled unpleasantly, but she could
ignore it. She corrected the writing as she went.

"When you say 'their fur is brown', how do you write
'their'?" she asked.

There was a little pause; the boys were always jeeringly
backward in answering. They had begun to jeer at her authority
altogether.

"Please, miss, t-h-e-i-r", spelled a lad, loudly, with a note
of mockery.

At that moment Mr. Harby was passing.

"Stand up, Hill!" he called, in a big voice.

Everybody started. Ursula watched the boy. He was evidently
poor, and rather cunning. A stiff bit of hair stood straight off
his forehead, the rest fitted close to his meagre head. He was
pale and colourless.

"Who told you to call out?" thundered Mr. Harby.

The boy looked up and down, with a guilty air, and a cunning,
cynical reserve.

"Please, sir, I was answering," he replied, with the same
humble insolence.

"Go to my desk."

The boy set off down the room, the big black jacket hanging
in dejected folds about him, his thin legs, rather knocked at
the knees, going already with the pauper's crawl, his feet in
their big boots scarcely lifted. Ursula watched him in his
crawling, slinking progress down the room. He was one of her
boys! When he got to the desk, he looked round, half furtively,
with a sort of cunning grin and a pathetic leer at the big boys
in Standard VII. Then, pitiable, pale, in his dejected garments,
he lounged under the menace of the headmaster's desk, with one
thin leg crooked at the knee and the foot struck out sideways
his hands in the low-hanging pockets of his man's jacket.

Ursula tried to get her attention back to the class. The boy
gave her a little horror, and she was at the same time hot with
pity for him. She felt she wanted to scream. She was responsible
for the boy's punishment. Mr. Harby was looking at her
handwriting on the board. He turned to the class.

"Pens down."

The children put down their pens and looked up.

"Fold arms."

They pushed back their books and folded arms.

Ursula, stuck among the back forms, could not extricate
herself.

"What is your composition about?" asked the
headmaster. Every hand shot up. "The ——" stuttered
some voice in its eagerness to answer.

"I wouldn't advise you to call out," said Mr. Harby. He would
have a pleasant voice, full and musical, but for the detestable
menace that always tailed in it. He stood unmoved, his eyes
twinkling under his bushy black eyebrows, watching the class.
There was something fascinating in him, as he stood, and again
she wanted to scream. She was all jarred, she did not know what
she felt.

"Well, Alice?" he said.

"The rabbit," piped a girl's voice.

"A very easy subject for Standard Five."

Ursula felt a slight shame of incompetence. She was exposed
before the class. And she was tormented by the contradictoriness
of everything. Mr. Harby stood so strong, and so male, with his
black brows and clear forehead, the heavy jaw, the big,
overhanging moustache: such a man, with strength and male power,
and a certain blind, native beauty. She might have liked him as
a man. And here he stood in some other capacity, bullying over
such a trifle as a boy's speaking out without permission. Yet he
was not a little, fussy man. He seemed to have some cruel,
stubborn, evil spirit, he was imprisoned in a task too small and
petty for him, which yet, in a servile acquiescence, he would
fulfil, because he had to earn his living. He had no finer
control over himself, only this blind, dogged, wholesale will.
He would keep the job going, since he must. And this job was to
make the children spell the word "caution" correctly, and put a
capital letter after a full-stop. So at this he hammered with
his suppressed hatred, always suppressing himself, till he was
beside himself. Ursula suffered, bitterly as he stood, short and
handsome and powerful, teaching her class. It seemed such a
miserable thing for him to be doing. He had a decent, powerful,
rude soul. What did he care about the composition on "The
Rabbit"? Yet his will kept him there before the class, threshing
the trivial subject. It was habit with him now, to be so little
and vulgar, out of place. She saw the shamefulness of his
position, felt the fettered wickedness in him which would blaze
out into evil rage in the long run, so that he was like a
persistent, strong creature tethered. It was really intolerable.
The jarring was torture to her. She looked over the silent,
attentive class that seemed to have crystallized into order and
rigid, neutral form. This he had it in his power to do, to
crystallize the children into hard, mute fragments, fixed under
his will: his brute will, which fixed them by sheer force.

She too must learn to subdue them to her will: she must. For
it was her duty, since the school was such. He had crystallized
the class into order. But to see him, a strong, powerful man,
using all his power for such a purpose, seemed almost horrible.
There was something hideous about it. The strange, genial light
in his eye was really vicious, and ugly, his smile was one of
torture. He could not be impersonal. He could not have a clear,
pure purpose, he could only exercise his own brute will. He did
not believe in the least in the education he kept inflicting
year after year upon the children. So he must bully, only bully,
even while it tortured his strong, wholesome nature with shame
like a spur always galling. He was so blind and ugly and out of
place. Ursula could not bear it as he stood there. The whole
situation was wrong and ugly.

The lesson was finished, Mr. Harby went away. At the far end
of the room she heard the whistle and the thud of the cane. Her
heart stood still within her. She could not bear it, no, she
could not bear it when the boy was beaten. It made her sick. She
felt that she must go out of this school, this torture-place.
And she hated the schoolmaster, thoroughly and finally. The
brute, had he no shame? He should never be allowed to continue
the atrocity of this bullying cruelty. Then Hill came crawling
back, blubbering piteously. There was something desolate about
this blubbering that nearly broke her heart. For after all, if
she had kept her class in proper discipline, this would never
have happened, Hill would never have called out and been
caned.

She began the arithmetic lesson. But she was distracted. The
boy Hill sat away on the back desk, huddled up, blubbering and
sucking his hand. It was a long time. She dared not go near, nor
speak to him. She felt ashamed before him. And she felt she
could not forgive the boy for being the huddled, blubbering
object, all wet and snivelled, which he was.

She went on correcting the sums. But there were too many
children. She could not get round the class. And Hill was on her
conscience. At last he had stopped crying, and sat bunched over
his hands, playing quietly. Then he looked up at her. His face
was dirty with tears, his eyes had a curious washed look, like
the sky after rain, a sort of wanness. He bore no malice. He had
already forgotten, and was waiting to be restored to the normal
position.

"Go on with your work, Hill," she said.

The children were playing over their arithmetic, and, she
knew, cheating thoroughly. She wrote another sum on the
blackboard. She could not get round the class. She went again to
the front to watch. Some were ready. Some were not. What was she
to do?

At last it was time for recreation. She gave the order to
cease working, and in some way or other got her class out of the
room. Then she faced the disorderly litter of blotted,
uncorrected books, of broken rulers and chewed pens. And her
heart sank in sickness. The misery was getting deeper.

The trouble went on and on, day after day. She had always
piles of books to mark, myriads of errors to correct, a
heart-wearying task that she loathed. And the work got worse and
worse. When she tried to flatter herself that the composition
grew more alive, more interesting, she had to see that the
handwriting grew more and more slovenly, the books more filthy
and disgraceful. She tried what she could, but it was of no use.
But she was not going to take it seriously. Why should she? Why
should she say to herself, that it mattered, if she failed to
teach a class to write perfectly neatly? Why should she take the
blame unto herself?

Pay day came, and she received four pounds two shillings and
one penny. She was very proud that day. She had never had so
much money before. And she had earned it all herself. She sat on
the top of the tram-car fingering the gold and fearing she might
lose it. She felt so established and strong, because of it. And
when she got home she said to her mother:

"It is pay day to-day, mother."

"Ay," said her mother, coolly.

Then Ursula put down fifty shillings on the table.

"That is my board," she said.

"Ay," said her mother, letting it lie.

Ursula was hurt. Yet she had paid her scot. She was free. She
paid for what she had. There remained moreover thirty-two
shillings of her own. She would not spend any, she who was
naturally a spendthrift, because she could not bear to damage
her fine gold.

She had a standing ground now apart from her parents. She was
something else besides the mere daughter of William and Anna
Brangwen. She was independent. She earned her own living. She
was an important member of the working community. She was sure
that fifty shillings a month quite paid for her keep. If her
mother received fifty shillings a month for each of the
children, she would have twenty pounds a month and no clothes to
provide. Very well then.

Ursula was independent of her parents. She now adhered
elsewhere. Now, the 'Board of Education' was a phrase that rang
significant to her, and she felt Whitehall far beyond her as her
ultimate home. In the government, she knew which minister had
supreme control over Education, and it seemed to her that, in
some way, he was connected with her, as her father was connected
with her.

She had another self, another responsibility. She was no
longer Ursula Brangwen, daughter of William Brangwen. She was
also Standard Five teacher in St. Philip's School. And it was a
case now of being Standard Five teacher, and nothing else. For
she could not escape.

Neither could she succeed. That was her horror. As the weeks
passed on, there was no Ursula Brangwen, free and jolly. There
was only a girl of that name obsessed by the fact that she could
not manage her class of children. At week-ends there came days
of passionate reaction, when she went mad with the taste of
liberty, when merely to be free in the morning, to sit down at
her embroidery and stitch the coloured silks was a passion of
delight. For the prison house was always awaiting her! This was
only a respite, as her chained heart knew well. So that she
seized hold of the swift hours of the week-end, and wrung the
last drop of sweetness out of them, in a little, cruel
frenzy.

She did not tell anybody how this state was a torture to her.
She did not confide, either to Gudrun or to her parents, how
horrible she found it to be a school-teacher. But when Sunday
night came, and she felt the Monday morning at hand, she was
strung up tight with dreadful anticipation, because the strain
and the torture was near again.

She did not believe that she could ever teach that great,
brutish class, in that brutal school: ever, ever. And yet, if
she failed, she must in some way go under. She must admit that
the man's world was too strong for her, she could not take her
place in it; she must go down before Mr. Harby. And all her life
henceforth, she must go on, never having freed herself of the
man's world, never having achieved the freedom of the great
world of responsible work. Maggie had taken her place there, she
had even stood level with Mr. Harby and got free of him: and her
soul was always wandering in far-off valleys and glades of
poetry. Maggie was free. Yet there was something like subjection
in Maggie's very freedom. Mr. Harby, the man, disliked the
reserved woman, Maggie. Mr. Harby, the schoolmaster, respected
his teacher, Miss Schofield.

For the present, however, Ursula only envied and admired
Maggie. She herself had still to get where Maggie had got. She
had still to make her footing. She had taken up a position on
Mr. Harby's ground, and she must keep it. For he was now
beginning a regular attack on her, to drive her away out of his
school. She could not keep order. Her class was a turbulent
crowd, and the weak spot in the school's work. Therefore she
must go, and someone more useful must come in her place, someone
who could keep discipline.

The headmaster had worked himself into an obsession of fury
against her. He only wanted her gone. She had come, she had got
worse as the weeks went on, she was absolutely no good. His
system, which was his very life in school, the outcome of his
bodily movement, was attacked and threatened at the point where
Ursula was included. She was the danger that threatened his body
with a blow, a fall. And blindly, thoroughly, moving from strong
instinct of opposition, he set to work to expel her.

When he punished one of her children as he had punished the
boy Hill, for an offence against himself, he made the
punishment extra heavy with the significance that the extra
stroke came in because of the weak teacher who allowed all these
things to be. When he punished for an offence against her, he
punished lightly, as if offences against her were not
significant. Which all the children knew, and they behaved
accordingly.

Every now and again Mr. Harby would swoop down to examine
exercise books. For a whole hour, he would be going round the
class, taking book after book, comparing page after page, whilst
Ursula stood aside for all the remarks and fault-finding to be
pointed at her through the scholars. It was true, since she had
come, the composition books had grown more and more untidy,
disorderly, filthy. Mr. Harby pointed to the pages done before
her regime, and to those done after, and fell into a passion of
rage. Many children he sent out to the front with their books.
And after he had thoroughly gone through the silent and
quivering class he caned the worst offenders well, in front of
the others, thundering in real passion of anger and chagrin.

"Such a condition in a class, I can't believe it! It is
simply disgraceful! I can't think how you have been let to get
like it! Every Monday morning I shall come down and examine
these books. So don't think that because there is nobody paying
any attention to you, that you are free to unlearn everything
you ever learned, and go back till you are not fit for Standard
Three. I shall examine all books every Monday——"

Then in a rage, he went away with his cane, leaving Ursula to
confront a pale, quivering class, whose childish faces were shut
in blank resentment, fear, and bitterness, whose souls were full
of anger and contempt for her rather than of the master, whose
eyes looked at her with the cold, inhuman accusation of
children. And she could hardly make mechanical words to speak to
them. When she gave an order they obeyed with an insolent
off-handedness, as if to say: "As for you, do you think we would
obey you, but for the master?" She sent the blubbering,
caned boys to their seats, knowing that they too jeered at her
and her authority, holding her weakness responsible for what
punishment had overtaken them. And she knew the whole position,
so that even her horror of physical beating and suffering sank
to a deeper pain, and became a moral judgment upon her, worse
than any hurt.

She must, during the next week, watch over her books, and
punish any fault. Her soul decided it coldly. Her personal
desire was dead for that day at least. She must have nothing
more of herself in school. She was to be Standard Five teacher
only. That was her duty. In school, she was nothing but Standard
Five teacher. Ursula Brangwen must be excluded.

So that, pale, shut, at last distant and impersonal, she saw
no longer the child, how his eyes danced, or how he had a queer
little soul that could not be bothered with shaping handwriting
so long as he dashed down what he thought. She saw no children,
only the task that was to be done. And keeping her eyes there,
on the task, and not on the child, she was impersonal enough to
punish where she could otherwise only have sympathized,
understood, and condoned, to approve where she would have been
merely uninterested before. But her interest had no place any
more.

It was agony to the impulsive, bright girl of seventeen to
become distant and official, having no personal relationship
with the children. For a few days, after the agony of the
Monday, she succeeded, and had some success with her class. But
it was a state not natural to her, and she began to relax.

Then came another infliction. There were not enough pens to
go round the class. She sent to Mr. Harby for more. He came in
person.

"Not enough pens, Miss Brangwen?" he said, with the smile and
calm of exceeding rage against her.

"No, we are six short," she said, quaking.

"Oh, how is that?" he said, menacingly. Then, looking over
the class, he asked:

"How many are there here to-day?"

"Fifty-two," said Ursula, but he did not take any notice,
counting for himself.

"Fifty-two," he said. "And how many pens are there,
Staples?"

Ursula was now silent. He would not heed her if she answered,
since he had addressed the monitor.

"That's a very curious thing," said Mr. Harby, looking over
the silent class with a slight grin of fury. All the childish
faces looked up at him blank and exposed.

"A few days ago there were sixty pens for this
class—now there are forty-eight. What is forty-eight from
sixty, Williams?" There was a sinister suspense in the question.
A thin, ferret-faced boy in a sailor suit started up
exaggeratedly.

"Please, sir!" he said. Then a slow, sly grin came over his
face. He did not know. There was a tense silence. The boy
dropped his head. Then he looked up again, a little cunning
triumph in his eyes. "Twelve," he said.

"I would advise you to attend," said the headmaster
dangerously. The boy sat down.

"Forty-eight from sixty is twelve: so there are twelve pens
to account for. Have you looked for them, Staples?"

"Yes, sir."

"Then look again."

The scene dragged on. Two pens were found: ten were missing.
Then the storm burst.

"Am I to have you thieving, besides your dirt and bad work
and bad behaviour?" the headmaster began. "Not content with
being the worst-behaved and dirtiest class in the school, you
are thieves into the bargain, are you? It is a very funny thing!
Pens don't melt into the air: pens are not in the habit of
mizzling away into nothing. What has become of them then? They
must be somewhere. What has become of them? For they must be
found, and found by Standard Five. They were lost by Standard
Five, and they must be found."

Ursula stood and listened, her heart hard and cold. She was
so much upset, that she felt almost mad. Something in her
tempted her to turn on the headmaster and tell him to stop,
about the miserable pens. But she did not. She could not.

After every session, morning and evening, she had the pens
counted. Still they were missing. And pencils and india-rubbers
disappeared. She kept the class staying behind, till the things
were found. But as soon as Mr. Harby had gone out of the room,
the boys began to jump about and shout, and at last they bolted
in a body from the school.

This was drawing near a crisis. She could not tell Mr. Harby
because, while he would punish the class, he would make her the
cause of the punishment, and her class would pay her back with
disobedience and derision. Already there was a deadly hostility
grown up between her and the children. After keeping in the
class, at evening, to finish some work, she would find boys
dodging behind her, calling after her: "Brangwen,
Brangwen—Proud-acre."

When she went into Ilkeston of a Saturday morning with
Gudrun, she heard again the voices yelling after her:

"Brangwen, Brangwen."

She pretended to take no notice, but she coloured with shame
at being held up to derision in the public street. She, Ursula
Brangwen of Cossethay, could not escape from the Standard Five
teacher which she was. In vain she went out to buy ribbon for
her hat. They called after her, the boys she tried to teach.

And one evening, as she went from the edge of the town into
the country, stones came flying at her. Then the passion of
shame and anger surpassed her. She walked on unheeding, beside
herself. Because of the darkness she could not see who were
those that threw. But she did not want to know.

Only in her soul a change took place. Never more, and never
more would she give herself as individual to her class. Never
would she, Ursula Brangwen, the girl she was, the person she
was, come into contact with those boys. She would be Standard
Five teacher, as far away personally from her class as if she
had never set foot in St. Philip's school. She would just
obliterate them all, and keep herself apart, take them as
scholars only.

So her face grew more and more shut, and over her flayed,
exposed soul of a young girl who had gone open and warm to give
herself to the children, there set a hard, insentient thing,
that worked mechanically according to a system imposed.

It seemed she scarcely saw her class the next day. She could
only feel her will, and what she would have of this class which
she must grasp into subjection. It was no good, any more, to
appeal, to play upon the better feelings of the class. Her
swift-working soul realized this.

She, as teacher, must bring them all as scholars, into
subjection. And this she was going to do. All else she would
forsake. She had become hard and impersonal, almost avengeful on
herself as well as on them, since the stone throwing. She did
not want to be a person, to be herself any more, after such
humiliation. She would assert herself for mastery, be only
teacher. She was set now. She was going to fight and subdue.

She knew by now her enemies in the class. The one she hated
most was Williams. He was a sort of defective, not bad enough to
be so classed. He could read with fluency, and had plenty of
cunning intelligence. But he could not keep still. And he had a
kind of sickness very repulsive to a sensitive girl, something
cunning and etiolated and degenerate. Once he had thrown an
ink-well at her, in one of his mad little rages. Twice he had
run home out of class. He was a well-known character.

And he grinned up his sleeve at this girl-teacher, sometimes
hanging round her to fawn on her. But this made her dislike him
more. He had a kind of leech-like power.

From one of the children she took a supple cane, and this she
determined to use when real occasion came. One morning, at
composition, she said to the boy Williams:

"Why have you made this blot?"

"Please, miss, it fell off my pen," he whined out, in the
mocking voice that he was so clever in using. The boys near
snorted with laughter. For Williams was an actor, he could
tickle the feelings of his hearers subtly. Particularly he could
tickle the children with him into ridiculing his teacher, or
indeed, any authority of which he was not afraid. He had that
peculiar gaol instinct.

"Then you must stay in and finish another page of
composition," said the teacher.

This was against her usual sense of justice, and the boy
resented it derisively. At twelve o'clock she caught him
slinking out.

"Williams, sit down," she said.

And there she sat, and there he sat, alone, opposite to her,
on the back desk, looking up at her with his furtive eyes every
minute.

"Please, miss, I've got to go an errand," he called out
insolently.

"Bring me your book," said Ursula.

The boy came out, flapping his book along the desks. He had
not written a line.

"Go back and do the writing you have to do," said Ursula. And
she sat at her desk, trying to correct books. She was trembling
and upset. And for an hour the miserable boy writhed and grinned
in his seat. At the end of that time he had done five lines.

"As it is so late now," said Ursula, "you will finish the
rest this evening."

The boy kicked his way insolently down the passage.

The afternoon came again. Williams was there, glancing at
her, and her heart beat thick, for she knew it was a fight
between them. She watched him.

During the geography lesson, as she was pointing to the map
with her cane, the boy continually ducked his whitish head under
the desk, and attracted the attention of other boys.

"Williams," she said, gathering her courage, for it was
critical now to speak to him, "what are you doing?"

He lifted his face, the sore-rimmed eyes half smiling. There
was something intrinsically indecent about him. Ursula shrank
away.

"Nothing," he replied, feeling a triumph.

"What are you doing?" she repeated, her heart-beat
suffocating her.

"Nothing," replied the boy, insolently, aggrieved, comic.

"If I speak to you again, you must go down to Mr. Harby," she
said.

But this boy was a match even for Mr. Harby. He was so
persistent, so cringing, and flexible, he howled so when he was
hurt, that the master hated more the teacher who sent him than
he hated the boy himself. For of the boy he was sick of the
sight. Which Williams knew. He grinned visibly.

Ursula turned to the map again, to go on with the geography
lesson. But there was a little ferment in the class. Williams'
spirit infected them all. She heard a scuffle, and then she
trembled inwardly. If they all turned on her this time, she was
beaten.

"Please, miss——" called a voice in distress.

She turned round. One of the boys she liked was ruefully
holding out a torn celluloid collar. She heard the complaint,
feeling futile.

"Go in front, Wright," she said.

She was trembling in every fibre. A big, sullen boy, not bad
but very difficult, slouched out to the front. She went on with
the lesson, aware that Williams was making faces at Wright, and
that Wright was grinning behind her. She was afraid. She turned
to the map again. And she was afraid.

"Please, miss, Williams——" came a sharp cry, and
a boy on the back row was standing up, with drawn, pained brows,
half a mocking grin on his pain, half real resentment against
Williams—"Please, miss, he's nipped me,"—and he
rubbed his leg ruefully.

"Come in front, Williams," she said.

The rat-like boy sat with his pale smile and did not
move.

"Come in front," she repeated, definite now.

"I shan't," he cried, snarling, rat-like, grinning. Something
went click in Ursula's soul. Her face and eyes set, she went
through the class straight. The boy cowered before her
glowering, fixed eyes. But she advanced on him, seized him by
the arm, and dragged him from his seat. He clung to the form. It
was the battle between him and her. Her instinct had suddenly
become calm and quick. She jerked him from his grip, and dragged
him, struggling and kicking, to the front. He kicked her several
times, and clung to the forms as he passed, but she went on. The
class was on its feet in excitement. She saw it, and made no
move.

She knew if she let go the boy he would dash to the door.
Already he had run home once out of her class. So she snatched
her cane from the desk, and brought it down on him. He was
writhing and kicking. She saw his face beneath her, white, with
eyes like the eyes of a fish, stony, yet full of hate and
horrible fear. And she loathed him, the hideous writhing thing
that was nearly too much for her. In horror lest he should
overcome her, and yet at the heart quite calm, she brought down
the cane again and again, whilst he struggled making
inarticulate noises, and lunging vicious kicks at her. With one
hand she managed to hold him, and now and then the cane came
down on him. He writhed, like a mad thing. But the pain of the
strokes cut through his writhing, vicious, coward's courage, bit
deeper, till at last, with a long whimper that became a yell, he
went limp. She let him go, and he rushed at her, his teeth and
eyes glinting. There was a second of agonized terror in her
heart: he was a beast thing. Then she caught him, and the cane
came down on him. A few times, madly, in a frenzy, he lunged and
writhed, to kick her. But again the cane broke him, he sank with
a howling yell on the floor, and like a beaten beast lay there
yelling.

Mr. Harby had rushed up towards the end of this
performance.

"What's the matter?" he roared.

Ursula felt as if something were going to break in her.

"I've thrashed him," she said, her breast heaving, forcing
out the words on the last breath. The headmaster stood choked
with rage, helpless. She looked at the writhing, howling figure
on the floor.

"Get up," she said. The thing writhed away from her. She took
a step forward. She had realized the presence of the headmaster
for one second, and then she was oblivious of it again.

"Get up," she said. And with a little dart the boy was on his
feet. His yelling dropped to a mad blubber. He had been in a
frenzy.

"Go and stand by the radiator," she said.

As if mechanically, blubbering, he went.

The headmaster stood robbed of movement or speech. His face
was yellow, his hands twitched convulsively. But Ursula stood
stiff not far from him. Nothing could touch her now: she was
beyond Mr. Harby. She was as if violated to death.

The headmaster muttered something, turned, and went down the
room, whence, from the far end, he was heard roaring in a mad
rage at his own class.

The boy blubbered wildly by the radiator. Ursula looked at
the class. There were fifty pale, still faces watching her, a
hundred round eyes fixed on her in an attentive, expressionless
stare.

"Give out the history readers," she said to the monitors.

There was dead silence. As she stood there, she could hear
again the ticking of the clock, and the chock of piles of books
taken out of the low cupboard. Then came the faint flap of books
on the desks. The children passed in silence, their hands
working in unison. They were no longer a pack, but each one
separated into a silent, closed thing.

"Take page 125, and read that chapter," said Ursula.

There was a click of many books opened. The children found
the page, and bent their heads obediently to read. And they
read, mechanically.

Ursula, who was trembling violently, went and sat in her high
chair. The blubbering of the boy continued. The strident voice
of Mr. Brunt, the roar of Mr. Harby, came muffled through the
glass partition. And now and then a pair of eyes rose from the
reading-book, rested on her a moment, watchful, as if
calculating impersonally, then sank again.

She sat still without moving, her eyes watching the class,
unseeing. She was quite still, and weak. She felt that she could
not raise her hand from the desk. If she sat there for ever, she
felt she could not move again, nor utter a command. It was a
quarter-past four. She almost dreaded the closing of the school,
when she would be alone.

The class began to recover its ease, the tension relaxed.
Williams was still crying. Mr. Brunt was giving orders for the
closing of the lesson. Ursula got down.

"Take your place, Williams," she said.

He dragged his feet across the room, wiping his face on his
sleeve. As he sat down, he glanced at her furtively, his eyes
still redder. Now he looked like some beaten rat.

At last the children were gone. Mr. Harby trod by heavily,
without looking her way, or speaking. Mr. Brunt hesitated as she
was locking her cupboard.

"If you settle Clarke and Letts in the same way, Miss
Brangwen, you'll be all right," he said, his blue eyes glancing
down in a strange fellowship, his long nose pointing at her.

"Shall I?" she laughed nervously. She did not want anybody to
talk to her.

As she went along the street, clattering on the granite
pavement, she was aware of boys dodging behind her. Something
struck her hand that was carrying her bag, bruising her. As it
rolled away she saw that it was a potato. Her hand was hurt, but
she gave no sign. Soon she would take the tram.

She was afraid, and strange. It was to her quite strange and
ugly, like some dream where she was degraded. She would have
died rather than admit it to anybody. She could not look at her
swollen hand. Something had broken in her; she had passed a
crisis. Williams was beaten, but at a cost.

Feeling too much upset to go home, she rode a little farther
into the town, and got down from the tram at a small tea-shop.
There, in the dark little place behind the shop, she drank her
tea and ate bread-and-butter. She did not taste anything. The
taking of tea was just a mechanical action, to cover over her
existence. There she sat in the dark, obscure little place,
without knowing. Only unconsciously she nursed the back of her
hand, which was bruised.

When finally she took her way home, it was sunset red across
the west. She did not know why she was going home. There was
nothing for her there. She had, true, only to pretend to be
normal. There was nobody she could speak to, nowhere to go for
escape. But she must keep on, under this red sunset, alone,
knowing the horror in humanity, that would destroy her, and with
which she was at war. Yet it had to be so.

In the morning again she must go to school. She got up and
went without murmuring even to herself. She was in the hands of
some bigger, stronger, coarser will.

School was fairly quiet. But she could feel the class
watching her, ready to spring on her. Her instinct was aware of
the class instinct to catch her if she were weak. But she kept
cold and was guarded.

Williams was absent from school. In the middle of the morning
there was a knock at the door: someone wanted the headmaster.
Mr. Harby went out, heavily, angrily, nervously. He was afraid
of irate parents. After a moment in the passage, he came again
into school.

"Sturgess," he called to one of his larger boys. "Stand in
front of the class and write down the name of anyone who speaks.
Will you come this way, Miss Brangwen."

He seemed vindictively to seize upon her.

Ursula followed him, and found in the lobby a thin woman with
a whitish skin, not ill-dressed in a grey costume and a purple
hat.

"I called about Vernon," said the woman, speaking in a
refined accent. There was about the woman altogether an
appearance of refinement and of cleanliness, curiously
contradicted by her half beggar's deportment, and a sense of her
being unpleasant to touch, like something going bad inside. She
was neither a lady nor an ordinary working man's wife, but a
creature separate from society. By her dress she was not
poor.

Ursula knew at once that she was Williams' mother, and that
he was Vernon. She remembered that he was always clean, and
well-dressed, in a sailor suit. And he had this same peculiar,
half transparent unwholesomeness, rather like a corpse.

"I wasn't able to send him to school to-day," continued the
woman, with a false grace of manner. "He came home last night
so ill—he was violently sick—I thought I
should have to send for the doctor.—You know he has a weak
heart."

The woman looked at Ursula with her pale, dead eyes.

"No," replied the girl, "I did not know."

She stood still with repulsion and uncertainty. Mr. Harby,
large and male, with his overhanging moustache, stood by with a
slight, ugly smile at the corner of his eyes. The woman went on
insidiously, not quite human:

"Oh, yes, he has had heart disease ever since he was a child.
That is why he isn't very regular at school. And it is very bad
to beat him. He was awfully ill this morning—I shall call
on the doctor as I go back."

"Who is staying with him now, then?" put in the deep voice of
the schoolmaster, cunningly.

"Oh, I left him with a woman who comes in to help
me—and who understands him. But I shall call in the doctor
on my way home."

Ursula stood still. She felt vague threats in all this. But
the woman was so utterly strange to her, that she did not
understand.

"He told me he had been beaten," continued the woman, "and
when I undressed him to put him to bed, his body was covered
with marks—I could show them to any doctor."

Mr. Harby looked at Ursula to answer. She began to
understand. The woman was threatening to take out a charge of
assault on her son against her. Perhaps she wanted money.

"I caned him," she said. "He was so much trouble."

"I'm sorry if he was troublesome," said the woman, "but he
must have been shamefully beaten. I could show the marks to any
doctor. I'm sure it isn't allowed, if it was known."

"I caned him while he kept kicking me," said Ursula, getting
angry because she was half excusing herself, Mr. Harby standing
there with the twinkle at the side of his eyes, enjoying the
dilemma of the two women.

"I'm sure I'm sorry if he behaved badly," said the woman.
"But I can't think he deserved beating as he has been. I can't
send him to school, and really can't afford to pay the
doctor.—Is it allowed for the teachers to beat the
children like that, Mr. Harby?"

The headmaster refused to answer. Ursula loathed herself, and
loathed Mr. Harby with his twinkling cunning and malice on the
occasion. The other miserable woman watched her chance.

"It is an expense to me, and I have a great struggle to keep
my boy decent."

Ursula still would not answer. She looked out at the asphalt
yard, where a dirty rag of paper was blowing.

"And it isn't allowed to beat a child like that, I am sure,
especially when he is delicate."

Ursula stared with a set face on the yard, as if she did not
hear. She loathed all this, and had ceased to feel or to
exist.

"Though I know he is troublesome sometimes—but I think
it was too much. His body is covered with marks."

Mr. Harby stood sturdy and unmoved, waiting now to have done,
with the twinkling, tiny wrinkles of an ironical smile at the
corners of his eyes. He felt himself master of the
situation.

"And he was violently sick. I couldn't possibly send him to
school to-day. He couldn't keep his head up."

Yet she had no answer.

"You will understand, sir, why he is absent," she said,
turning to Mr. Harby.

"Oh, yes," he said, rough and off-hand. Ursula detested him
for his male triumph. And she loathed the woman. She loathed
everything.

"You will try to have it remembered, sir, that he has a weak
heart. He is so sick after these things."

"Yes," said the headmaster, "I'll see about it."

"I know he is troublesome," the woman only addressed herself
to the male now—"but if you could have him punished
without beating—he is really delicate."

Ursula was beginning to feel upset. Harby stood in rather
superb mastery, the woman cringing to him to tickle him as one
tickles trout.

"I had come to explain why he was away this morning, sir. You
will understand."

She held out her hand. Harby took it and let it go, surprised
and angry.

"Good morning," she said, and she gave her gloved, seedy hand
to Ursula. She was not ill-looking, and had a curious
insinuating way, very distasteful yet effective.

"Good morning, Mr. Harby, and thank you."

The figure in the grey costume and the purple hat was going
across the school yard with a curious lingering walk. Ursula
felt a strange pity for her, and revulsion from her. She
shuddered. She went into the school again.

The next morning Williams turned up, looking paler than ever,
very neat and nicely dressed in his sailor blouse. He glanced at
Ursula with a half-smile: cunning, subdued, ready to do as she
told him. There was something about him that made her shiver.
She loathed the idea of having laid hands on him. His elder
brother was standing outside the gate at playtime, a youth of
about fifteen, tall and thin and pale. He raised his hat, almost
like a gentleman. But there was something subdued, insidious
about him too.

"Who is it?" said Ursula.

"It's the big Williams," said Violet Harby roughly.
"She was here yesterday, wasn't she?"

"Yes."

"It's no good her coming—her character's not good
enough for her to make any trouble."

Ursula shrank from the brutality and the scandal. But it had
some vague, horrid fascination. How sordid everything seemed!
She felt sorry for the queer woman with the lingering walk, and
those queer, insidious boys. The Williams in her class was wrong
somewhere. How nasty it was altogether.

So the battle went on till her heart was sick. She had
several more boys to subjugate before she could establish
herself. And Mr. Harby hated her almost as if she were a man.
She knew now that nothing but a thrashing would settle some of
the big louts who wanted to play cat and mouse with her. Mr.
Harby would not give them the thrashing if he could help it. For
he hated the teacher, the stuck-up, insolent high-school miss
with her independence.

"Now, Wright, what have you done this time?" he would say
genially to the boy who was sent to him from Standard Five for
punishment. And he left the lad standing, lounging, wasting his
time.

So that Ursula would appeal no more to the headmaster, but,
when she was driven wild, she seized her cane, and slashed the
boy who was insolent to her, over head and ears and hands. And
at length they were afraid of her, she had them in order.

But she had paid a great price out of her own soul, to do
this. It seemed as if a great flame had gone through her and
burnt her sensitive tissue. She who shrank from the thought of
physical suffering in any form, had been forced to fight and
beat with a cane and rouse all her instincts to hurt. And
afterwards she had been forced to endure the sound of their
blubbering and desolation, when she had broken them to
order.

Oh, and sometimes she felt as if she would go mad. What did
it matter, what did it matter if their books were dirty and they
did not obey? She would rather, in reality, that they disobeyed
the whole rules of the school, than that they should be beaten,
broken, reduced to this crying, hopeless state. She would rather
bear all their insults and insolences a thousand times than
reduce herself and them to this. Bitterly she repented having
got beside herself, and having tackled the boy she had
beaten.

Yet it had to be so. She did not want to do it. Yet she had
to. Oh, why, why had she leagued herself to this evil system
where she must brutalize herself to live? Why had she become a
school-teacher, why, why?

The children had forced her to the beatings. No, she did not
pity them. She had come to them full of kindness and love, and
they would have torn her to pieces. They chose Mr. Harby. Well
then, they must know her as well as Mr. Harby, they must first
be subjugate to her. For she was not going to be made nought,
no, neither by them, nor by Mr. Harby, nor by all the system
around her. She was not going to be put down, prevented from
standing free. It was not to be said of her, she could not take
her place and carry out her task. She would fight and hold her
place in this state also, in the world of work and man's
convention.

She was isolated now from the life of her childhood, a
foreigner in a new life, of work and mechanical consideration.
She and Maggie, in their dinner-hours and their occasional teas
at the little restaurant, discussed life and ideas. Maggie was a
great suffragette, trusting in the vote. To Ursula the vote was
never a reality. She had within her the strange, passionate
knowledge of religion and living far transcending the limits of
the automatic system that contained the vote. But her
fundamental, organic knowledge had as yet to take form and rise
to utterance. For her, as for Maggie, the liberty of woman meant
something real and deep. She felt that somewhere, in something,
she was not free. And she wanted to be. She was in revolt. For
once she were free she could get somewhere. Ah, the wonderful,
real somewhere that was beyond her, the somewhere that she felt
deep, deep inside her.

In coming out and earning her own living she had made a
strong, cruel move towards freeing herself. But having more
freedom she only became more profoundly aware of the big want.
She wanted so many things. She wanted to read great, beautiful
books, and be rich with them; she wanted to see beautiful
things, and have the joy of them for ever; she wanted to know
big, free people; and there remained always the want she could
put no name to.

It was so difficult. There were so many things, so much to
meet and surpass. And one never knew where one was going. It was
a blind fight. She had suffered bitterly in this school of St.
Philip's. She was like a young filly that has been broken in to
the shafts, and has lost its freedom. And now she was suffering
bitterly from the agony of the shafts. The agony, the galling,
the ignominy of her breaking in. This wore into her soul. But
she would never submit. To shafts like these she would never
submit for long. But she would know them. She would serve them
that she might destroy them.

She and Maggie went to all kinds of places together, to big
suffrage meetings in Nottingham, to concerts, to theatres, to
exhibitions of pictures. Ursula saved her money and bought a
bicycle, and the two girls rode to Lincoln, to Southwell, and
into Derbyshire. They had an endless wealth of things to talk
about. And it was a great joy, finding, discovering.

But Ursula never told about Winifred Inger. That was a sort
of secret side-show to her life, never to be opened. She did not
even think of it. It was the closed door she had not the
strength to open.

Once she was broken in to her teaching, Ursula began
gradually to have a new life of her own again. She was going to
college in eighteen months' time. Then she would take her
degree, and she would—ah, she would perhaps be a big
woman, and lead a movement. Who knows?—At any rate she
would go to college in eighteen months' time. All that mattered
now was work, work.

And till college, she must go on with this teaching in St.
Philip's School, which was always destroying her, but which she
could now manage, without spoiling all her life. She would
submit to it for a time, since the time had a definite
limit.

The class-teaching itself at last became almost mechanical.
It was a strain on her, an exhausting wearying strain, always
unnatural. But there was a certain amount of pleasure in the
sheer oblivion of teaching, so much work to do, so many children
to see after, so much to be done, that one's self was forgotten.
When the work had become like habit to her, and her individual
soul was left out, had its growth elsewhere, then she could be
almost happy.

Her real, individual self drew together and became more
coherent during these two years of teaching, during the struggle
against the odds of class teaching. It was always a prison to
her, the school. But it was a prison where her wild, chaotic
soul became hard and independent. When she was well enough and
not tired, then she did not hate the teaching. She enjoyed
getting into the swing of work of a morning, putting forth all
her strength, making the thing go. It was for her a strenuous
form of exercise. And her soul was left to rest, it had the time
of torpor in which to gather itself together in strength again.
But the teaching hours were too long, the tasks too heavy, and
the disciplinary condition of the school too unnatural for her.
She was worn very thin and quivering.

She came to school in the morning seeing the hawthorn flowers
wet, the little, rosy grains swimming in a bowl of dew. The
larks quivered their song up into the new sunshine, and the
country was so glad. It was a violation to plunge into the dust
and greyness of the town.

So that she stood before her class unwilling to give herself
up to the activity of teaching, to turn her energy, that longed
for the country and for joy of early summer, into the dominating
of fifty children and the transferring to them some morsels of
arithmetic. There was a little absentness about her. She could
not force herself into forgetfulness. A jar of buttercups and
fool's-parsley in the window-bottom kept her away in the
meadows, where in the lush grass the moon-daisies were
half-submerged, and a spray of pink ragged robin. Yet before her
were faces of fifty children. They were almost like big daisies
in a dimness of the grass.

A brightness was on her face, a little unreality in her
teaching. She could not quite see her children. She was
struggling between two worlds, her own world of young summer and
flowers, and this other world of work. And the glimmer of her
own sunlight was between her and her class.

Then the morning passed with a strange far-awayness and
quietness. Dinner-time came, when she and Maggie ate joyously,
with all the windows open. And then they went out into St.
Philip's churchyard, where was a shadowy corner under red
hawthorn trees. And there they talked and read Shelley or
Browning or some work about "Woman and Labour".

And when she went back to school, Ursula lived still in the
shadowy corner of the graveyard, where pink-red petals lay
scattered from the hawthorn tree, like myriad tiny shells on a
beach, and a church bell sometimes rang sonorously, and
sometimes a bird called out, whilst Maggie's voice went on low
and sweet.

These days she was happy in her soul: oh, she was so happy,
that she wished she could take her joy and scatter it in armfuls
broadcast. She made her children happy, too, with a little
tingling of delight. But to her, the children were not a school
class this afternoon. They were flowers, birds, little bright
animals, children, anything. They only were not Standard Five.
She felt no responsibility for them. It was for once a game,
this teaching. And if they got their sums wrong, what matter?
And she would take a pleasant bit of reading. And instead of
history with dates, she would tell a lovely tale. And for
grammar, they could have a bit of written analysis that was not
difficult, because they had done it before:

  "She shall be sportive as a fawn
That wild with glee across the lawn
Or up the mountain springs."

She wrote that from memory, because it pleased her.

So the golden afternoon passed away and she went home happy.
She had finished her day of school, and was free to plunge into
the glowing evening of Cossethay. And she loved walking home.
But it had not been school. It had been playing at school
beneath red hawthorn blossom.

She could not go on like this. The quarterly examination was
coming, and her class was not ready. It irritated her that she
must drag herself away from her happy self, and exert herself
with all her strength to force, to compel this heavy class of
children to work hard at arithmetic. They did not want to work,
she did not want to compel them. And yet, some second conscience
gnawed at her, telling her the work was not properly done. It
irritated her almost to madness, and she let loose all the
irritation in the class. Then followed a day of battle and hate
and violence, when she went home raw, feeling the golden evening
taken away from her, herself incarcerated in some dark, heavy
place, and chained there with a consciousness of having done
badly at work.

What good was it that it was summer, that right till evening,
when the corncrakes called, the larks would mount up into the
light, to sing once more before nightfall. What good was it all,
when she was out of tune, when she must only remember the burden
and shame of school that day.

And still, she hated school. Still she cried, she did not
believe in it. Why should the children learn, and why should she
teach them? It was all so much milling the wind. What folly was
it that made life into this, the fulfilling of some stupid,
factitious duty? It was all so made up, so unnatural. The
school, the sums, the grammar, the quarterly examinations, the
registers—it was all a barren nothing!

Why should she give her allegiance to this world, and let it
so dominate her, that her own world of warm sun and growing,
sap-filled life was turned into nothing? She was not going to do
it. She was not going to be a prisoner in the dry, tyrannical
man-world. She was not going to care about it. What did it
matter if her class did ever so badly in the quarterly
examination. Let it—what did it matter?

Nevertheless, when the time came, and the report on her class
was bad, she was miserable, and the joy of the summer was taken
away from her, she was shut up in gloom. She could not really
escape from this world of system and work, out into her fields
where she was happy. She must have her place in the working
world, be a recognized member with full rights there. It was
more important to her than fields and sun and poetry, at this
time. But she was only the more its enemy.

It was a very difficult thing, she thought, during the long
hours of intermission in the summer holidays, to be herself, her
happy self that enjoyed so much to lie in the sun, to play and
swim and be content, and also to be a school-teacher getting
results out of a class of children. She dreamed fondly of the
time when she need not be a teacher any more. But vaguely, she
knew that responsibility had taken place in her for ever, and as
yet her prime business was to work.

The autumn passed away, the winter was at hand. Ursula became
more and more an inhabitant of the world of work, and of what is
called life. She could not see her future, but a little way off,
was college, and to the thought of this she clung fixedly. She
would go to college, and get her two or three years' training,
free of cost. Already she had applied and had her place
appointed for the coming year.

So she continued to study for her degree. She would take
French, Latin, English, mathematics and botany. She went to
classes in Ilkeston, she studied at evening. For there was this
world to conquer, this knowledge to acquire, this qualification
to attain. And she worked with intensity, because of a want
inside her that drove her on. Almost everything was subordinated
now to this one desire to take her place in the world. What kind
of place it was to be she did not ask herself. The blind desire
drove her on. She must take her place.

She knew she would never be much of a success as an
elementary school teacher. But neither had she failed. She hated
it, but she had managed it.

Maggie had left St. Philip's School, and had found a more
congenial post. The two girls remained friends. They met at
evening classes, they studied and somehow encouraged a firm hope
each in the other. They did not know whither they were making,
nor what they ultimately wanted. But they knew they wanted now
to learn, to know and to do.

They talked of love and marriage, and the position of woman
in marriage. Maggie said that love was the flower of life, and
blossomed unexpectedly and without law, and must be plucked
where it was found, and enjoyed for the brief hour of its
duration.

To Ursula this was unsatisfactory. She thought she still
loved Anton Skrebensky. But she did not forgive him that he had
not been strong enough to acknowledge her. He had denied her.
How then could she love him? How then was love so absolute? She
did not believe it. She believed that love was a way, a means,
not an end in itself, as Maggie seemed to think. And always the
way of love would be found. But whither did it lead?

"I believe there are many men in the world one might
love—there is not only one man," said Ursula.

She was thinking of Skrebensky. Her heart was hollow with the
knowledge of Winifred Inger.

"But you must distinguish between love and passion," said
Maggie, adding, with a touch of contempt: "Men will easily have
a passion for you, but they won't love you."

"Yes," said Ursula, vehemently, the look of suffering, almost
of fanaticism, on her face. "Passion is only part of love. And
it seems so much because it can't last. That is why passion is
never happy."

She was staunch for joy, for happiness, and permanency, in
contrast with Maggie, who was for sadness, and the inevitable
passing-away of things. Ursula suffered bitterly at the hands of
life, Maggie was always single, always withheld, so she went in
a heavy brooding sadness that was almost meat to her. In
Ursula's last winter at St. Philip's the friendship of the two
girls came to a climax. It was during this winter that Ursula
suffered and enjoyed most keenly Maggie's fundamental sadness of
enclosedness. Maggie enjoyed and suffered Ursula's struggles
against the confines of her life. And then the two girls began
to drift apart, as Ursula broke from that form of life wherein
Maggie must remain enclosed.







CHAPTER XIV

THE WIDENING CIRCLE

Maggie's people, the Schofields, 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, gamekeepers, farmers, 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, with brown, sunny, easy
eyes and a face handsomely hewn, brown, 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, the eldest, 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. And she,
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, musical neigh.
He looked handsome. And she heard a new sound in her ears, the
faintly-musical, neighing laugh of Anthony, whose moustache
twisted up, and whose eyes were luminous with a cold, steady,
arrogant-laughing glare. 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, Sunday clothes.

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, gleaming humour.

While Ursula was at Belcote, the snow fell. In the morning, a
covering of snow weighed on the rhododendron bushes.

"Shall we go out?" said Maggie.

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, dark figure,
like an animal moving in its unawareness.

Ursula and Maggie went on exploring, down to a tinkling,
chilly brook, 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.

"Hello!" she called to him.

A response went over his face, his head was lifted in an
answering, jerking gesture.

"Hello!" he said. "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," she cried.

"Do you?" he said. "I'm glad you like it."

There was a curious confidence in his voice.

"Oh, 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."

"Is it?" he said, with a little laugh. "Yes—well, it's
not so bad——" he was hesitating. The pale gleam was
strong in his eyes, he was looking at her steadily, watching
her, 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?" he asked,
tentatively.

She blenched with fear and with the intense sensation of
proffered licence suggested to her.

They had come to the gate.

"How?" she asked. "You aren't alone here."

"We could marry," he answered, 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, inhuman, gleaming
sensations. 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.

"I couldn't," she answered, involuntarily.

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, hard, 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. Oh, 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, bluish snow. 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, snowy evening, 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, saying:

"I wouldn't make Anthony love you, Ursula, if you don't want
him. It is not nice."

"But, Maggie, I never made him love me," cried Ursula,
dismayed and suffering, and feeling as if she had done something
base.

She liked Anthony, though. All her life, at intervals, 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. But oh, 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, first October,
then November, December, January. 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. Then, 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, unknown,
spacious. Come college, 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, groping, 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,
dusky enclosure. He sent in his application, confidently,
expectantly. 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, alert
face. 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,
socially. So long, 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. But now, 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.

"'Ello, Urs'ler, '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. They said, 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. The old, 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, proud, simple
girl-friend, 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,
passionately, 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. And she, 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.

Going home, 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. Oh, how amazing it was to her! It was almost too much.
She wanted to run, and sing, 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.
She was, 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,
grey-green buds, myriads. 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, dim green, 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,
towards Southwell, 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.

He bought, 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,
small town.

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, with bulging,
columnar supports.

"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.

After all, 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, the colliery-managers, and the chemists, they would
shine, with their Della Robbia beautiful Madonna, their lovely
reliefs from Donatello, their reproductions from Botticelli.
Nay, 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. Busily, eagerly,
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.

"Good-bye, children," she said. "I shall not forget you, and
you must not forget me."

"No, miss," cried the children in chorus, with shining
faces.

She stood smiling on them, moved, as they filed out. Then she
gave her monitors their term sixpences, and they too departed.
Cupboards were locked, blackboards washed, 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, vacant place, 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, to Llandudno, to Yarmouth. 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.

"Well," he said, "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."

"Oh, yes," said Ursula, stammering, blushing, laughing. "Oh,
yes, I shall come and see you."

Then she realized that this sounded too personal, and she
felt foolish.

"Miss Schofield suggested these two books," he said, 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.

"Oh, I shall love them," she said. "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.

"Yes," he said, "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, loving them.
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,
glistening sun, one look down the well-known road, and turned
her back on it all. Something strained in her heart. She was
going away.

"Well, good luck," 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. She laughed, 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. Queer! There was a little pang amid her
exultation, of fear, 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, thank God, were over.

"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, scrupulous handwriting. 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, luminous, 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,
streaming in.

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.

At last, the cart was seen coming round the corner, familiar
furniture piled undignified on top, Tom, her brother, and
Theresa, 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.

"Well, we're getting on," said Brangwen, cheerfully.

Two more loads arrived. The afternoon passed away in a
struggle with the furniture, upstairs. 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.

"There!" said Brangwen, as his wife got down from the cart:
"Now we're all here."

"Ay," 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, untidy
family. 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.







CHAPTER XV

THE BITTERNESS OF ECSTASY

A storm of industry raged on in the house. Ursula did not go
to college till October. So, with a distinct feeling of
responsibility, as if she must express herself in this house,
she laboured arranging, re-arranging, selecting, contriving.

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, sunny seat,
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. But, 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. Still, 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,
bold hussy, 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.

Term began. 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. Still,
it was different from that of all other buildings. Its rather
pretty, plaything, 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. Nevertheless,
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, pure spirit, she
wanted them to say only the real, genuine things, she wanted
their faces to be still and luminous as the nuns' and the monks'
faces.

Alas, the girls chattered and giggled and were nervous, they
were dressed up and frizzed, the men looked mean and
clownish.

Still, it was lovely to pass along the corridor with one's
books in one's hands, to push the swinging, glass-panelled door,
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. Looking down,
she saw the lime trees turning yellow, the tradesman's boy
passing silent down the still, autumn-sunny street. There was
the world, remote, remote.

Here, within the great, whispering sea-shell, that whispered
all the while with reminiscence of all the centuries, time faded
away, and the echo of knowledge filled the timeless silence.

She listened, she scribbled her notes with joy, almost with
ecstasy, never for a moment criticizing what she heard. The
lecturer was a mouth-piece, a priest. As he stood, black-gowned,
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.

At first, 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,
hushed temple. 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, so steady, so measured, she felt a thrill as of
being in the realm of the reality. Of Latin, she was doing Livy
and Horace. The curious, intimate, 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, dark dress. 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,
like Cassandra.

The two girls had a close, stern friendship. 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, slim, strong
girls, 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, easy clothing, 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. In winter, wearing a tweed
coat-and-skirt and a small hat of black fur pulled over her
eager, palpitant face, 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, unborn yearning. "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,
swift glimmer, 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, she laughed. 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. Oh, and if, when the
wave burst into whiteness, it were only set free!

Sometimes she loitered along the harbour, looking at the
sea-browned sailors, who, in their close blue jerseys, lounged
on the harbour-wall, and laughed at her with impudent,
communicative eyes.

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. Something
ugly, 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 warm, attentive host, 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. After all, 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, why, she did not know. But
the whole thing seemed sham, spurious; spurious Gothic arches,
spurious peace, spurious Latinity, spurious dignity of France,
spurious naïveté 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; and oh, the deep, white froth of the daisies
was anguish to see.

For inside, 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. Mechanically, from habit,
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. Down below, 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? 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, this college? 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? Everywhere, 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, cheap, a temple converted to the most
vulgar, petty commerce. Had she not gone to hear the echo of
learning pulsing back to the source of the mystery?—The
source of mystery! And barrenly, 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; and then, upon approach, 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, squalid activity.

No matter! 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, Winifred Inger, and the months
before becoming a school-teacher; then the horrors of Brinsley
Street, lapsing into comparative peacefulness, Maggie, and
Maggie's brother, whose influence she could still feel in her
veins, when she conjured him up; then college, 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, Ursula Brangwen? She did not know what she was. Only she
was full of rejection, of refusal. Always, always she was
spitting out of her mouth the ash and grit of disillusion, of
falsity. She could only stiffen in rejection, in rejection. She
seemed always negative in her action.

That which she was, positively, 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, gleaming,
penetrating, vanishing. 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.

Yea, 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, anti-social knave, 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. And some, 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 inte