Ursula sent out a boy on a quest.
`It will make the books untidy,' she said to Birkin, flushing deeply.
`Not very,' he said. `You must mark in these things obviously. It's the fact you want to emphasise, not the subjective impression to record. What's the fact? -- red little spiky stigmas of the female flower, dangling yellow male catkin, yellow pollen flying from one to the other. Make a pictorial record of the fact, as a child does when drawing a face -- two eyes, one nose, mouth with teeth -- so --' And he drew a figure on the blackboard.
At that moment another vision was seen through the glass panels of the door. It was Hermione Roddice. Birkin went and opened to her.
`I saw your car,' she said to him. `Do you mind my coming to find you? I wanted to see you when you were on duty.'
She looked at him for a long time, intimate and playful, then she gave a short little laugh. And then only she turned to Ursula, who, with all the class, had been watching the little scene between the lovers.
`How do you do, Miss Brangwen,' sang Hermione, in her low, odd, singing fashion, that sounded almost as if she were poking fun. `Do you mind my coming in?'
Her grey, almost sardonic eyes rested all the while on Ursula, as if summing her up.
`Oh no,' said Ursula.
`Are you sure?' repeated Hermione, with complete sang froid, and an odd, half-bullying effrontery.
`Oh no, I like it awfully,' laughed Ursula, a little bit excited and bewildered, because Hermione seemed to be compelling her, coming very close to her, as if intimate with her; and yet, how could she be intimate?
This was the answer Hermione wanted. She turned satisfied to Birkin.
`What are you doing?' she sang, in her casual, inquisitive fashion.
`Catkins,' he replied.
`Really!' she said. `And what do you learn about them?' She spoke all the while in a mocking, half teasing fashion, as if making game of the whole business. She picked up a twig of the catkin, piqued by Birkin's attention to it.
She was a strange figure in the class-room, wearing a large, old cloak of greenish cloth, on which was a raised pattern of dull gold. The high collar, and the inside of the cloak, was lined with dark fur. Beneath she had a dress of fine lavender-coloured cloth, trimmed with fur, and her hat was close-fitting, made of fur and of the dull, green-and-gold figured stuff. She was tall and strange, she looked as if she had come out of some new, bizarre picture.
`Do you know the little red ovary flowers, that produce the nuts? Have you ever noticed them?' he asked her. And he came close and pointed them out to her, on the sprig she held.
`No,' she replied. `What are they?'
`Those are the little seed-producing flowers, and the long catkins, they only produce pollen, to fertilise them.'
`Do they, do they!' repeated Hermione, looking closely.
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