CONTENTS


  I. How Tom Brangwen Married a Polish Lady  I  II
  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
  VIII.The Child
  IX. The Marsh and the Flood
  X The Widening Circle
  XI. First Love
  XII. Shame
  XIII. The Man's World
  XIV. The Widening Circle
  XV. The Bitterness of Ecstasy
  XVI. 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 churchtower
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 bloodintimacy,
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 draw-
ing. 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 Der-
byshire 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
1 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 devel-
oped, 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 commonplaces
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 some-
thing 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 knit-
ting 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 beautyspot,
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 ap-
proach, 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 ridinggai-
ters, 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 an-
other, 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 trans-
ported 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 custom-
ary 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 resolve-
d 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
gorping1 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 him-
self, "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 discov-
ered 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 pock-
et was on fire, he could only beam from a red, blissful face and say "Iss-
allri-ight—iss-al'-ri-ight—it's a' right—let it be, let it be——" and he laugh-
ed 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 womanservant
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 in-
side 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 curi-
ously 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 naive, 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 con-
fident 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, warmt-
winkling 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 see-
ing even the things he handled, drifting, quiescent, in a state of metamor-
phosis. 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 curledup
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, look-
ed 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,
blenched
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 daf-
fodils 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 emancipee. 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 insur-
gents to ride into a Jewish village, brandishing swords and words, empha-
sizing 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, de-
manding 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 sav-
agely 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 snowspeckled
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 unconscious-
ness, 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 safe-
ty 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 quiver-
ed 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 shape-
ly 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 frag-
ments, 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 hus-
band, 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, scar-
cely 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 sod-
den 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,1 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 softlyil-
luminated 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 dimlylit
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 threshing2 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 lit-
tle 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 else-
where than on her. Gradually the child was freed.
She became an inde-
pendent, 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 a-
mused 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 cat-
tlemarket 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 odd-
ity. 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 strongwilled,
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 clodhopper
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 or-
dinary 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 ar-
rogance, 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 inti-
macy.


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 un-
derstood 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. Brang-
wen'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. Brang-
wen; he made furious gestures with his hands, his blue eyes were full
of fire. And to Anna, there was a significance about his sharp, fling-
ing 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 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 be-
came 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 madden-
ed 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 al-
ways 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 slaughterhouse, 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 infer-
ior. 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 selfpossession
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 snirt1 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 snirt 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
snirt 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
nave1 and chancel2 and transept,3 of
rood-screen4 and font,5 of hatchet-carving and moulding6 and tracery,7
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
8 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 grin-
ning 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 though 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, stretch-
ing
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.
9 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
overtaken 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 passion-
ately, 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 accom-
plishment. 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, thun-
derous
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 woodwork,
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 cook-
ingpans, 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 fre-
quent 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 al
l, 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 osten-
sible 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 woodcarv-
ing. 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 bit-
terly, 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
movements
, 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 desolate-
ness
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 contradict
ing
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
1 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 ten-
derness, she looked so lost and forlorn and young. She glanced up,
afraid. And
she was surprised to see him, shining-faced, clear and beau-
tiful 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?1 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 firkins2
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, a
nd 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
3 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 hori-
zons, 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"
.4

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,4 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, some-
thing, 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, be-
cause 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 des-
truction
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 un-
changed.
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 woundsmart
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
5
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 prom-
inent
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 attrac-
ted 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, concen-
trated
age, his informed fire, his faculty for sharp, deliberate response.
He was so
detached, so purely objective. A woman was thoroughly out-
side 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 stoat6 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 subor-
dination 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 trans-
ported
.

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-ech-
oed
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 incon-
ceivable
, 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 twofold
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, sur-
charged
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 atmo-
sphere 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 whitewash-
ed 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 her-
self, 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,
the limitation of his He even had to know, of his own black, violent tem-
per, 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 dark-
ness 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 passion-
ately
. He would have fought to the last drop to defend that exquisite, per-
fect 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, befor
e 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 concen-
trated 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.


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 con-
sciousness.
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 wa
s 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 inade-
quacy, 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 child-
hood
. 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, vag-
uely 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 footprints
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 indiffe-
rence, 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 clun
g 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 him-
self
, 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 want-
ed 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 gratifi-
cation
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 voluptu-
ousness
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 mad 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, any-
thing, 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 be-
come conscious, it cast such a spell over her, and so darkened her mind.




CHAPTER IX


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 selfless
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-
ofpearl, all pale and glimmering and exquisite; or he sent her a little neck-
lace 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 anybo-
dy 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 to-
wards 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. In-
stantly
he was in the turmoil of suffocation. He fought in a black horror
of
suffocation, fighting, wrestling, but always borne down, borne inevita-
bly
down. Still he wrestled and fought to get himself free, in the unutter-
able
struggle of suffocation, but he always fell again deeper. Something
struck his head, a great wonder of anguish went over him, then the black-
ness
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 mo-
ment 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 wa-
ter. 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 cau-
seway 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 wash-
ed
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 ma-
jesty
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, in-
violable
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, deephidden
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 selfsubordination,
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 remem-
bered.


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 sub-
stance 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 comate
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 Phi-
llips 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 es-
cape from the belittling circumstances of life, the little jealousies, the little
differences, the little meannesses. It was a torture to her that the Phillips-
es 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 "thoー
rough". 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 arroー
gance 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, scamper-
ing 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 com-
fortable, 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 highroad,
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 imme-
diate 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 dreari-
ness
. 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 be-
gotten 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 unhis-
toried, 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 fath-
er 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 compo-
sitions 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
beau-iful, 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 won-
derful, 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's1 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 move-
ment
, 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 af-
terdeath, 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 XI


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
playworld, 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 theweek-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 trans-
ference 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, vibra-
ting
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 mat-
erial 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
res
t."

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 want-
ed 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, accept-
ing 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 di-
rectness 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 seem-
ed 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 accli-
matized 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 for-
ward 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 be-
fore 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 rou-
sed 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 mo-
tion 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 handclasp.

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 subaltern2--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
1 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, press-
ing
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 love-
ly, 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 unbridge-
able 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 indif-
ference irritated her and yet cast a spell over her. She knew it was the
outcome of a spirit of laissez-aller
3 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
4 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 Skre-
bensky. 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 en-
chanted land where nobody had ever been before!
Then they would be en-
chanted
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 ecstasy. 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 run-
ning 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, al-
most 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 but-
ton-chrysanthemums like a frightened dryad, the bright yellow little chry-
santhemums 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 folksongs
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 hand-
some, 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 form loose-
ned, 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 be-
tween.
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 bust-
led
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 at-
tracted
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 at-
tentive
. 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 moth-
er-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