`I'm afraid I hoped so,' said Ursula. `I ran here for refuge, when I saw you down the lake, just putting off.'

`Did you! And now we've run you to earth.'

Hermione's eyelids lifted with an uncanny movement, amused but overwrought. She had always her strange, rapt look, unnatural and irresponsible.

`I was going on,' said Ursula. `Mr Birkin wanted me to see the rooms. Isn't it delightful to live here? It is perfect.'

`Yes,' said Hermione, abstractedly. Then she turned right away from Ursula, ceased to know her existence.

`How do you feel, Rupert?' she sang in a new, affectionate tone, to Birkin.

`Very well,' he replied.

`Were you quite comfortable?' The curious, sinister, rapt look was on Hermione's face, she shrugged her bosom in a convulsed movement, and seemed like one half in a trance.

`Quite comfortable,' he replied.

There was a long pause, whilst Hermione looked at him for a long time, from under her heavy, drugged eyelids.

`And you think you'll be happy here?' she said at last.

`I'm sure I shall.'

`I'm sure I shall do anything for him as I can,' said the labourer's wife. `And I'm sure our master will; so I hope he'll find himself comfortable.'

Hermione turned and looked at her slowly.

`Thank you so much,' she said, and then she turned completely away again. She recovered her position, and lifting her face towards him, and addressing him exclusively, she said:

`Have you measured the rooms?'

`No,' he said, `I've been mending the punt.'

`Shall we do it now?' she said slowly, balanced and dispassionate.

`Have you got a tape measure, Mrs Salmon?' he said, turning to the woman.

`Yes sir, I think I can find one,' replied the woman, bustling immediately to a basket. `This is the only one I've got, if it will do.'

Hermione took it, though it was offered to him.

`Thank you so much,' she said. `It will do very nicely. Thank you so much.' Then she turned to Birkin, saying with a little gay movement: `Shall we do it now, Rupert?'

`What about the others, they'll be bored,' he said reluctantly.

`Do you mind?' said Hermione, turning to Ursula and Gerald vaguely.

`Not in the least,' they replied.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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