GUDRUN KNEW that it was a critical thing for her to go to Shortlands. She knew it was equivalent to accepting Gerald Crich as a lover. And though she hung back, disliking the condition, yet she knew she would go on. She equivocated. She said to herself, in torment recalling the blow and the kiss, `after all, what is it? What is a kiss? What even is a blow? It is an instant, vanished at once. I can go to Shortlands just for a time, before I go away, if only to see what it is like.' For she had an insatiable curiosity to see and to know everything.
She also wanted to know what Winifred was really like. Having heard the child calling from the steamer in the night, she felt some mysterious connection with her.
Gudrun talked with the father in the library. Then he sent for his daughter. She came accompanied by Mademoiselle.
`Winnie, this is Miss Brangwen, who will be so kind as to help you with your drawing and making models of your animals,' said the father.
The child looked at Gudrun for a moment with interest, before she came forward and with face averted offered her hand. There was a complete sang froid and indifference under Winifred's childish reserve, a certain irresponsible callousness.
`How do you do?' said the child, not lifting her face.
`How do you do?' said Gudrun.
Then Winifred stood aside, and Gudrun was introduced to Mademoiselle.
`You have a fine day for your walk,' said Mademoiselle, in a bright manner.
`Quite fine,' said Gudrun.
Winifred was watching from her distance. She was as if amused, but rather unsure as yet what this new person was like. She saw so many new persons, and so few who became real to her. Mademoiselle was of no count whatever, the child merely put up with her, calmly and easily, accepting her little authority with faint scorn, compliant out of childish arrogance of indifference.
`Well, Winifred,' said the father, `aren't you glad Miss Brangwen has come? She makes animals and birds in wood and in clay, that the people in London write about in the papers, praising them to the skies.'
Winifred smiled slightly.
`Who told you, Daddie?' she asked.
`Who told me? Hermione told me, and Rupert Birkin.'
`Do you know them?' Winifred asked of Gudrun, turning to her with faint challenge.
`Yes,' said Gudrun.
Winifred readjusted herself a little. She had been ready to accept Gudrun as a sort of servant. Now she saw it was on terms of friendship they were intended to meet. She was rather glad. She had so many half inferiors, whom she tolerated with perfect good-humour.
Gudrun was very calm. She also did not take these things very seriously. A new occasion was mostly spectacular to her. However, Winifred was a detached, ironic child, she would never attach herself. Gudrun liked her and was intrigued by her. The first meetings went off with a certain humiliating clumsiness. Neither Winifred nor her instructress had any social grace.
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