`I can't say it is love I have to offer -- and it isn't love I want. It is something much more impersonal and harder -- and rarer.'

There was a silence, out of which she said:

`You mean you don't love me?'

She suffered furiously, saying that.

`Yes, if you like to put it like that. Though perhaps that isn't true. I don't know. At any rate, I don't feel the emotion of love for you -- no, and I don't want to. Because it gives out in the last issues.'

`Love gives out in the last issues?' she asked, feeling numb to the lips.

`Yes, it does. At the very last, one is alone, beyond the influence of love. There is a real impersonal me, that is beyond love, beyond any emotional relationship. So it is with you. But we want to delude ourselves that love is the root. It isn't. It is only the branches. The root is beyond love, a naked kind of isolation, an isolated me, that does not meet and mingle, and never can.'

She watched him with wide, troubled eyes. His face was incandescent in its abstract earnestness.

`And you mean you can't love?' she asked, in trepidation.

`Yes, if you like. I have loved. But there is a beyond, where there is not love.'

She could not submit to this. She felt it swooning over her. But she could not submit.

`But how do you know -- if you have never really loved?' she asked.

`It is true, what I say; there is a beyond, in you, in me, which is further than love, beyond the scope, as stars are beyond the scope of vision, some of them.'

`Then there is no love,' cried Ursula.

`Ultimately, no, there is something else. But, ultimately, there is no love.'

Ursula was given over to this statement for some moments. Then she half rose from her chair, saying, in a final, repellent voice:

`Then let me go home -- what am I doing here?'

`There is the door,' he said. `You are a free agent.'

He was suspended finely and perfectly in this extremity. She hung motionless for some seconds, then she sat down again.

`If there is no love, what is there?' she cried, almost jeering.

`Something,' he said, looking at her, battling with his soul, with all his might.


He was silent for a long time, unable to be in communication with her while she was in this state of opposition.

`There is,' he said, in a voice of pure abstraction; `a final me which is stark and impersonal and beyond responsibility. So there is a final you. And it is there I would want to meet you -- not in the emotional,

  By PanEris using Melati.

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